‘We can’t wait to welcome you back’ – that’s the message from Cumbrian traders keen to open their doors again today after a gruelling lockdown.

Today sees the latest easing of lockdown restrictions in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with shops, hairdressers, pubs, gyms and zoos among those able to get back to business.

And with customers set to return the high streets, business owners have encouraged them to shop local and are excited to reward their loyalty.

Workington's Reworks Hairdressing and Beauty Services, owned by Suzanne Hemingway, has been preparing for the big day.

Joan Pritchard, who works at Reworks, said: “We’re so looking forward to it.

“I’ve missed being around people and customers and, of course, doing the job itself.”

“There’s a massive social aspect of getting your hair done as well.

“I’m so excited just to be able to get back in and start seeing people again and doing their hair, even if it is correction work.”

Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to reopen today too – but will only be allowed to serve customers outside.

There was a buzz of excitement at the Gosling Bridge Inn in Carlisle as they prepared to welcome people back.

“We’ve all been in the pub getting everything ready and all the staff are looking forward to getting back to work,” said duty manager James Davidson.

“It’s massively important that businesses get going again and hopefully this is it now.

“It’s been hard because we have single mothers who work here and coming to work is normally their break.

“A lot of the staff were bored, having been under lockdown, but we’re so excited to get back to it and to just see how everything works.”

The Sunny Hill Pub in Whitehaven are have also been preparing their beer garden ahead of the their reopening on the 12 April.

A spokeswoman for the pub said: "I can't wait.

"I can't wait to get back to a bit of normality, seeing all the customers and seeing them socialising again.

"A lot of people miss coming out and having something to drink and a bite to eat with their friends and family.

"It's been a long three and a half months."

Alexandros Greek Deli and Restaurant in Carlisle will be reopening on Thursday.

Owner Sarah Pathanoglou said: “We just can’t wait.

“It’s been far too long.

“We’re going to start getting back to normal and see everyone again and it’s going to be fantastic.

“We’re going to do our best with the Cumbrian weather, but we will give it a go.

“We can’t wait to have a laugh and a bit of fun with the customers. It will be like normal again.”

Copeland’s elected mayor, Mike Starkie backed the calls for people to shop local and support their town centres.

He said: “I’m delighted that we’re starting to take steps back towards normality.

“It’s going to be a lifeline to business to get themselves open and I would urge local people to support these businesses to get them back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said: "After such a long period of closure we know that tourism and hospitality businesses can’t wait to start welcoming guests back once restrictions allow a partial reopening of tourism from 12th April.

"Businesses have worked tirelessly to accommodate customers in line with social distancing and we can’t wait to provide a warm Cumbrian welcome to both new and returning visitors.

"This is the perfect time for people to explore new places across the county, including areas they may not have visited before such as historic Carlisle, Morecambe Bay and the Cumbrian coast, the North Pennines and lesser-known locations such as Alston – the highest market town in England.

"Wherever they visit, we’re encouraging visitors to plan ahead using visitlakedistrict.com and saferlakes.co.uk to avoid busier areas and to support local businesses during their stay."