BUSINESSES will be able to 'throw off the shackles' and get on the path to normality with the latest easing of lockdown measures which will see Dorset opening up again.

The Government is pressing ahead to allow mixing indoors and physical contact in England from today – despite warnings from scientists and medics about the Indian coronavirus variant.

Under stage three of the roadmap, pubs and restaurants can open for indoor serving, indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and children's play areas can open, as well as hotels and B&Bs.

The Plaza and Odeon cinemas in Dorchester will reopen today but Cineworld - which has a cinema complex in Weymouth - says it won't be opening until Wednesday.

Travel to a handful of approved countries – including Portugal – without having to quarantine, will be permitted.

As reported, businesses said last week they 'could wait to reopen'.

Meanwhile, President of the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce Craig Oakes said: “It is a great pleasure to see so many businesses now able to throw the shackles off and open more fully.

"Over the last year or so the restrictions that they have had to live by have gone from the reasonable, to frankly some quite crazy asks of them.

"Due to the pandemic though and because of the threat that we have lived with and still live with, the majority have carried on regardless and have persevered with dignity. Many have not been able to open at all though despite any of the options given to them by the Government.

"Financial assistance has been one thing but now to have the ability to open their cinema, guesthouse, hotel, pub, restaurant, café, children’s play area, etc for at least some to go inside is something a year ago we just didn’t think would be happening without having to jump through a lot of hoops.

"We hope that the roadmap continues and that business can be full business once again and wholly sustainable."

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Pub and restaurant bosses have said that welcoming customers back into venues across the country will help the sector "back on to the path to normality".

From today, pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to serve customers inside for the first time in at least four months. Groups of six or two households will be able to enjoy meals and drinks inside venues.

However, industry bosses have stressed that there are still challenges ahead as restrictions, such as table service and social distancing, continue to hinder profitability.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday it was "appropriate" to push on with the major easing of lockdown in England.

He said new evidence gives a "high degree of confidence" that coronavirus vaccines work against the Indian variant, but did not rule out a return to local lockdowns to stem resurgences.

Mr Hancock added that there were now more than 1,300 cases of the so-called Indian variant in total and it is becoming "the dominant strain" in areas including Bolton and Blackburn.