HAIRDRESSERS and barber shops in the area are anticipating a busy first few weeks when they are able to reopen.

The businesses are currently scheduled to open on Monday, April 12 - along with outdoor hospitality venues, non-essential shops and gyms.

With people having been unable to have a professional haircut for more than three months by the opening date - hairdressers in and around the Bridport area are expecting to be very busy.

When they reopened after the first national lockdown on July 4, 2020, queues were seen throughout the area and shops which only took bookings had a backlog of three months worth of customers.

Steve Wheeler, owner of Steve's Barber Shop on East Street, said there was a queue of around 10 people outside his shop at 5.30am when he reopened in July.

He said: "If it’s anything like it was after the first lockdown, it is going to be manic. It was hectic but it was exciting and it gives us an idea of what to expect when we open again.

“We are really looking forward to be able to open again, we just hope this is actually the last lockdown and we don’t have to go through all this again.

“We'll have the correct PPE, practise social distancing and have track and trace set up.

"I'll be perfectly happy if it’s as busy as it was last time, everyone was very pleasant and they waited for us and were very patient."

Louise Thresher, owner of the Salon in Charmouth, said: "I’m really excited about reopening this time around. I’m staying positive and confident that it’s going to be the last time we have to close and I can’t wait to open.

“We have everything in place from before in regards to Covid regulations so that is less of a worry. We had to change the entirety of how we ran our businesses last year so we’re used to it now.

“Our industry has really stepped up over the past year – the amount of training we have access to online is unbelievable. I'm really excited to get back and put what I’ve learned into practice.

Louise said she has more than 400 people to rebook who had appointments scheduled from January to March.

She said: "I think people have realised over the past year how much they value our industry. We will have been in lockdown for more than three months and people need their haircuts.

“A lot of men have their hair cut twice a month, so it’s going to be interesting to see some of them over the next few months."

Helen O'Sullivan, owner of Salon on the Square in Beaminster, said: "We're looking forward to reopening and we just hope with the vaccination programme in full force everyone is feeling confident enough to come out for a haircut.

"A lot of customers have hardly left their homes in the past year, they're all worried and its about being able to give them at ease so they can come down and enjoy a conversation and interaction while they get their hair done.

"We'll be able to go back to working under the safety restrictions like before - masks and visors and distancing in the salon. We didn't know what we were supposed to be doing before but now we have that experience and we're very much on top of the health and safety aspects."

She added: "It's been very helpful to have the government funding over the past year. All my staff are on furlough and I haven't had to make any redundancies which is great - we're hoping we'll just be able to bounce back."