BUSINESSES across the district are hoping they can reopen later this month.

Stage three of the roadmap out of lockdown is fast approaching, as indoor hospitality venues and larger gatherings set to be permitted.

Braintree MP James Cleverly said he is hopeful businesses will be busy again after struggling for so long.

On May 17 restrictions are expected to be lifted on social contact, meaning outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed.

Pubs and Restaurants, which up until now are only permitted to cater for people seated outside, will see indoor hospitality reopen.

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Entertainment venues including children's play centres, cinemas, children’s play areas, museums will also reopen.

Mr Cleverly said: "I think a lot of businesses have really struggled and the grants that the council and the government have been funding have kept a number of businesses afloat which would otherwise have gone under.

"But it's been really difficult.

"What I hope and I have picked up on this from a number of people is that it seems to be that a lot of people have been reminded of how much they love local shops.

"I lot of people really miss the local experience and now that they are allowed out again I think and I hope it will be a busy time for the local shops again.

"I have always encouraged people to use local shops and employ local businesses."