BUSINESSES in Malvern say they can’t wait to return after the lockdown.

In the government’s proposed “roadmap” to come out of lockdown, businesses will be re-opening in phases. From April 12 at the earliest: shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will reopen.

From May 17 at the earliest, two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors and crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues will be allowed at performances and sporting events.

Friends and family could finally be allowed to hug each other again, with the road map promising that advice on social distancing will be updated “as soon as possible” and no later than step three.

From June 21 at the earliest, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen.

Malvern traders have expressed their excitement. Kathy Leather, who owns Copper Beech House, said: "We at copper beech house feel happy about the government road map. It seems planned, considered and has contingency should things change. We are happy that we should have the vast majority of the summer to trade. We are looking forward to customers coming back to our B&B to visit our county and the beautiful Malvern Hills."

Tina Iacovelli, who runs her shop in the town said: "I’m feeling relieved and excited to finally have a date to work towards. These last few weeks have been a challenge but I know shoppers will be keen to get out to the bricks and mortar shops for some long awaited proper, touchy feely retail therapy with a warm customer service experience."

Shona Kelly, who runs Faun, said: "We think it’s a sensible and cautious approach.The last thing any of us wants is to be thrust back into a lockdown. At least now we all have a date we can work towards."

Making a statement in the Commons, the Prime Minister acknowledged “the threat remains substantial” with the numbers in hospital only now beginning to fall below the peak of the first wave in April.

One scientist advising the Government said ministers risked a third wave of the pandemic as big as the current one if they moved too quickly while senior NHS figures said the health service remained under huge pressure.