CLACTON Pier has welcomed the roadmap out of lockdown as better than expected... and hopes to open in April.

Pier director Billy Ball said there is genuine hope that outdoor areas – including rides and the new observation wheel – will be given the go-ahead for April 12.

The landmark said further clarification is being sought from trade associations about whether some indoor attractions can open on that date, while it is accepted others will need to wait until May 17 at the earliest.

Mr Ball said he is pleased with the Government’s announcement on easing the lockdown and will now be able to plan to recruit staff for all parts of the site.

“The announcement is better than we expected and hopefully it will not be long before we can open the doors to customers,” he said.

“It has been a long hard winter and we all understand why it was necessary to have a third lockdown – and we supported that for the good of everyone.

“But with Covid rates coming down and millions being vaccinated we need to be looking ahead.

“We appreciate it will be a gradual re-opening as we do not want to undo the good work that has already been done.

“But now we have some target dates to work towards we can begin our planning with some degree of certainty.

"The pier is not able to operate at a moment’s notice as we need to employ staff, get them trained and put everything else in place.”

Mr Ball added that whatever happens, he hopes the Government will extend the furlough scheme until such time as businesses can reopen and give further support through VAT and business rates.

“I believe this Government has done as much as any other across the world to provide help to the business community but that needs to continue for just a little longer,” he said.

“Otherwise, there will be more jobs lost and companies going under.”

Mr Ball said he is looking forward to being able to employ local people and providing jobs on the pier again.

The pier re-opened its Candy Corner kiosk at the weekend providing takeaway refreshments now that the weather has improved.

It is the only part of the business that can operate under current lockdown restrictions.