IT WAS branded by many as Super Saturday, but in Andover the word ‘steady’ might have been a better description.

Many pubs in and around the town reopened for business today, as the government lifted the shutdown it had enforced on pubs back in March.

And a number of those venues reported smooth sailing during the first morning and afternoon of trading, easing any concerns – from both staff and customers – over potentially hectic scenes.

The landlord of the Malthouse, on the corner of Weyhill Road and Millway Road, told the Advertiser: “We didn’t know what to expect today. It could have been a bit mad, but thankfully it hasn’t been here.”

Dave Watts, from the Crown Inn in Upton, said it's been so far so good, and that “people are just excited to be able to come back to pubs”, while Mike Lawton, of the Royal Oak in Goodworth Clatford, said the afternoon had been “steady” and “easy going” with “absolutely no problems whatsoever”.

Some were grateful for the steady start, as it gave them the chance to adapt to the new safety measures and in turn help customers do the same.

Claire Revius, of the Weyhill Fair, said: “In a way I’m happy that there’s not so many people, as it means we’re able to give the people here a better service and it’s given us a bit of an opportunity to point people in the right direction.”

“I’m just happy to see people and have that liveliness back,” she added.

One explanation for the slightly less hectic start is that many pubs have been allowing fewer people in.

The Malthouse’s landlord estimates the pub has been operating at about 60 per cent capacity – even less at 30 or 40 per cent when it rains and the outside area becomes unavailable.

And Mike agrees that while the Royal Oak has been full at times, the reduced capacity means they’ve never been overwhelmed.

“We’ve been full but not busy, if that makes sense,” he said.

“It’s been steady – no rush, easy going. And everyone’s been following the rules.”

It’s a similar story in Weyhill, with Claire adding: “Everyone so far has been respectful of the social distancing and the measures we’ve put in place. I’m really happy with the way it’s turned out so far.

“I think everyone’s concerned that people would come out in big groups and you’d get trouble but that certainly hasn’t happened here.”

Even in larger town centre pubs – such as the John Russell Fox – venues appeared to be on top of the situation.

When our reporter was in the pub during the morning, guidelines were being followed and the majority of customers spoken to said they felt comfortable with the measures in place.

However, some were less optimistic about how the evening may pan out.

One told the Advertiser: “By 7pm it might be a different story.” He had only popped in for breakfast and a pint before planning to head home.

John Williams, meanwhile, arrived during the morning with a group of friends he lived with and remained until the afternoon, but wasn’t planning to see the night out.

“We’ll be out of here by then,” he said, “this evening the idiots will be here so we’re out of here.”

Again, though, the overriding feeling was one of relief at once again being allowed back into pubs, with John’s friend Simon Buckley simply adding: “It’s amazing to be back.”