Hexham's independent cafes have been alive with hustle and bustle following a further lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Despite the cold, clear skies meant that people were out in their droves to enjoy non-essential retail and hospitality being open for the first time since December – with town centre cafes with outdoor seating proving a big hit. 

Clare Mitchell, a customer at Bunters Coffee Shop on Hallgate, said: “I’m really excited for my coffee and it is great to see everywhere open again. The weather is a bit cold though!”

Molly Heppell, who was waiting for a coffee with a friend outside Abbey Lounge on Market Place, said: “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our day so far. The table has been cleaned and the weather is nice. We are going to the clothes shops after this, and I have got my mask with me!”

Paolo Pani, the owner of Salute Coffee Bar said: “Today is like a new national holiday. It’s like opening for the first time! It has been a long time since we were open, and it’s been very hard but I’m hoping to make people happy.”

The next lifting of lockdown restrictions is due to be on May 17, when pubs, bars, and restaurants will be allowed to open fully, along with museums and cinemas. Overnight stays at other people’s homes will also be permitted.