'FREEDOM Day' is approaching but many of Bridport's businesses are choosing to err on the side of caution in regards to restrictions.

The final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown is set to come into force from this Monday, July 19.

This final stage of the plans - known as 'Freedom Day' - will see all legal limits on social contact removed, restrictions on large scale events lifted, and hospitality venues which have remained closed - such as nightclubs - can reopen.

Bridport South and West Bay currently has 15 cases of Covid-19 - with a rolling rate of 270.2 case per 100,000 people - whilst Bridport North has reported 23 cases - a rolling rate of 351.2 per 100,000 people.

Both North and South Bridport currently have less than three cases each.

Many local businesses have declared they will not be 'returning to normal' and will stick with some safety restrictions.

Mike Reid, owner of the Green Yard Café on Barrack Street, said: "We're still carrying on exactly the same as before. We don't personally feel it's safe enough to go back to how things were before the pandemic.

"We can't afford to be shut down again. It could easily happen if people are negligent and overconfident and we want to make sure we keep everybody safe."

Steve's Barber Shop is continuing much in the same vein going forward, with staff continuing to wear masks in the shop, only four people being allowed in at once and sanitising of equipment and seating areas.

Steve Wheeler, owner of Steve's Barber Shop on East Street, said: "People are still scared, and we need to make them feel as safe as possible. We've spoken to a lot of customers and they're all in agreement.

"I don't think people are confident enough to go back to normal at the moment, with the way cases are going up.

"It's not just for me its for my customers. With the holidaymakers coming down as well at the moment we can't be too careful."

At Colours Hair Studio on St Andrews Road, staff will continue to do lateral flow tests twice a week, continue to wear face masks, clean and sanitise chairs and equipment between each appointment and check customers temperatures on arrival.

Ella Henson, manager of Colours, said: "We just think we still have to be careful - we all have families and obviously we want the customers to feel as safe as possible.

"We have vulnerable clients who come in and it is important that we protect them and keep them safe.

"Covid cases have been going up in the area, and just because we don't have to carry on with these measures doesn't mean we have to stop using them."

Clocktower Music on Bridport Trading Estate, however, announced it will still require customers to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines and wear the disposable gloves provided when browsing the records.

Gill Crump, owner of clothing shop Instant Redress on East Street, said: "I'm not going to insist people wear face masks as we're a big shop with a nice through breeze.

"Personally I will be wearing a face mask anywhere crowded, because its polite to do so and I'm thinking of other people.

"Just because you legally don't have to wear a mask, doesn't mean you shouldn't."

Bridport Leisure Centre will be keeping a number of restrictions in place; encouraging members and parents to wear face masks whilst spectating, keeping social distancing measures throughout the centre, pre-booked sessions, keeping closed dry changing rooms and all showers and requesting that members do not visit the centre if they are feeling unwell.

The Pursuit of Hoppiness on West Street will be loosening restrictions, but not all the way.

Manager Chris Denne said: "We're going to open up again as best we can. It will be more relaxed that how its been up to this point- but we don't want lots of people standing around inside without masks so we're going to try to mitigate that.

"We will be putting systems in place to avoid having a crowded bar.

"We'll be going back to bar service instead of table service, but we're not going to just throw the doors open and go back to normal as we feel it's responsible to keep a level of caution at this point."

Robert Mühl, President of Bridport Business Chamber said: “From a quick straw poll of local businesses, it seems that Bridport is taking a ‘slow and steady’ approach. It looks as though the current guidelines will still be in place for many beyond next Monday.

“Feedback from customers and clients tends to be that they would rather continue to wear masks and with Covid cases rising, I don’t think anyone will be taking unnecessary risks which could mean self-isolation for staff and the possibility that businesses will have to shut their doors again.”