SNOW and a return to winter made for a slow start for some businesses in Ludlow that have opened for the first time this year.

It was more like mid-winter than early spring when non-essential shops opened their doors to customers for the first time in more than three months.

Melissa Gibbons , manager at Bodenhams, said that the snow had put some people off from shopping early on Monday.

"But it improved as the day went on and we are glad to be back," she added.

Stanton Stephens, of the Castle Book Shop, has been selling online and offering a click and collect service during the lock downs.

But he said that it was good to be back in the shop again.

"There was a steady number of customers on the first day," said Mr Stephens.

"It was not too many and we do not want to many at this stage because of the social distancing rules. There just seemed to be about the right number."

Hairdressers like No 10 in Old Street are also welcoming people back for a proper cut after too long leaving it in the hands of family and friends.

Tish Dockerty, of the Ludlow Chamber of Trade, reported a good start to the relaxation of rules.

"Shops reported good sales, it was a good Monday, not a busy bank holiday, but good, all satisfied," she said.

"The brewery reported ‘amazing support from customers, old regulars and new faces.”

But generally it has been a mixed picture with pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Weather more suited to snowboarding that cricket was not what was wanted.

With customers only able to be served at tables and outdoors it has been difficult for some businesses to decide if the cost of opening this early can be justified by the income and not all premises have suitable outdoor accommodation.

There are also strict rules around the use of outdoor marques to make sure that they do not in effect become indoor spaces outdoors.

The reasons for the rule is that the virus is more easily spread indoors and in a pub, cafe or restaurant people will be in close proximity to each other.

All being well there will be a further relaxation from May 17 when people will be allowed to eat and drink indoors but it will still be table service only with social distancing and groups only able to come together in family households or bubbles.

If everything goes to plan there will be a return to the old normal with all restrictions lifted from June 21.

Businesses remain cautious and say that it is too early to know if the good start will be sustained or if it results from pent up enthusiasm.

There remains a question mark over long term confidence in safety from the virus and the economic prospects with many losing jobs or at least significant income.

But one thing about which all seem to agree is that the current move towards normality needs to continue with no more setbacks to the process.