MANY shops, pubs, restaurants and sports centres in East Lothian opened for the first time this year on Monday, much to the delight of residents.

All were given the green light to reopen this week as Scotland entered the more relaxed Level 3 coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes welcomed back customers and shared their delight at being able to take their first food order or pull their first pint for outdoor drinkers.

SEE MORE: In pictures – pubs and restaurants in East Lothian re-open

The rules state that food can be served indoors with non-alcoholic drinks until 8pm. People can gather in groups of up to six people from two households.

Outdoors, food and alcohol can be consumed by up to six people from up to six households.

Many venues had also upgraded or extended their beer gardens in preparation for the big day, with outdoor seating, heaters, tents and marquees added.

The Courier paid some of the county’s hospitality venues a visit on Monday and, despite it being a cloudy and windy day, it did not stop customers from supporting their local.

Dean Ivinson, manager at the Ravelston House Hotel in Musselburgh, said: “I’m just delighted to be open and see people around the place again.

“It’s been an excellent day; it is just good to be able to serve people again.”

For Christine O’Brien, at the Seaglass Inn in Port Seton, Monday meant more than simply being able to reopen.

She said: “It’s a strange feeling because we have been closed for so long and all of a sudden it is here.

“The weather isn’t brilliant but it’s great to be open and start seeing people again; it has been quite a calm opening.

“It has been an unbelievable year. We opened in August 2019 and have been closed more than we have been open.

“Hopefully this is it and this is us open.”

Guy Campanile owns The Old Clubhouse in Gullane and said he was also delighted to open his doors. He said: “It has been a horrendous year. It’s been really difficult for everybody.

“It’s been very trying but we’re delighted to be open again.

“I think the social aspect is more important than anything else, for people to get out and talk and mix again.

“The customers have been quite patient and understanding.”

Stirling Stewart, from the Nether Abbey Hotel in North Berwick, said he was “relieved” to be open, adding that there were “better times ahead” for the hospitality sector.

Sean McCashey, of No.12 Hotel and Bistro in North Berwick, hired additional staff ahead of reopening.

He said: “It’s good for me to get back and good to get all the staff back working, we’ve actually taken new staff on.

“It’s not been the greatest of weather but it’s been a good first day.”

James Findlay owns the Waterside Bistro in Haddington. He said: “It’s been a great day, we are very lucky. It would be great if it was a bit warmer but we are not being greedy after the year we have had.”

Alongside hospitality, non-essential shops were finally able to welcome people in once more.

Karla Green, chair of Haddington Business Community Partnership, said that despite the wet weather, there had been an increased footfall in Haddington, with queues outside some shops.

Karla, from East Lothian TV and Video Repair Centre, said: “It was absolutely fantastic to be able to reopen.

“The businesses I have spoken to are all so happy to see their customers.

“They were pretty busy as well, there was a small queue outside Graham the Jeweller. Everyone is just totally buzzing, it’s been great.

“It is going to be a long road to recovery but the grants were a great help to many businesses; some are still struggling but it has seen everyone through the really hard time and hopefully we will emerge bigger and stronger.”

Philip Mellor, chair of Dunbar Trades’ Association, said: “The feedback and the support has been brilliant.

“The sun came out in Dunbar and people were so happy to be back.

“Being able to see items and have a look at them. . . you almost feel somewhat normal again.”

The group also has a special offer where if someone spends more than £5 in a local store in Dunbar they are entered into a prize draw to be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher for a shop of their choice.

Also reopening were indoor gyms and swimming pools, though fitness classes will not resume indoors until May 17.

enjoyleisure runs swimming pools and leisure centres across East Lothian, with those in Haddington, Dunbar and Tranent all reopening. The Mercat Gait Centre in Prestonpans, managed by FES, also reopened. Swimming pools in Musselburgh and North Berwick are currently still closed (see story on Page 4).

Pre-booking for all enjoyleisure activities is required – visit

Bill Axon, enjoyleisure chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be unlocking our doors once again.

“While physical distancing is part of normal daily lives, staying active and connected is more important than ever to maintain our health and wellbeing.”

With pools open, swimming lessons and swimming clubs were able to resume.

Provost John McMillan, East Lothian Council spokesperson for tourism and economic development, felt there had been “a movement” towards shopping locally and was hopeful that would continue. He said: “I think people were pleased to be out. I heard somebody saying ‘how was your Christmas and happy new year’, so there was a bit of fun going on.

“It is important for the high street and important for the communities, but we need to stay safe.”