ONE year ago this week, the nation was plunged into darkness as the first lockdown was introduced, closing businesses, shops, pubs and restaurants across Andover.

Photographs taken at the time showed the usually bustling High Street and surrounding roads eerily silent at rush hour as residents heeded the PM’s order to stay at home.

Twelve months on, The Advertiser brings you two special reports this week looking at how the health crisis has affected the town and what measures are being put in place to ensure the local economy is able to bounce back as restrictions ease later this year.

Andover’s first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 8 when the leisure centre was closed following a visit from an infected man.

Cases increased over the next two weeks before lockdown on March 23.

In Andover, businesses like Canto Gelato were beginning to feel the pressure of the pandemic.

Kelly Jones only opened her business in December 2019, after years of wanting their own restaurant. She told The Advertiser having to lockdown just three months later was “gutting”.

Following the new rules being introduced, councils across the country had to kick into action, providing grants, advice and support to individuals and businesses. Test Valley was no different, as Councillor Phil North recalls.

“The council stepped up immediately, marshalling the community resilience effort, paying out government grants and manning the helplines,” he told the Advertiser.

Also in this week’s paper:

- Care home makes changes following man's death

- Andover children raise money for good causes

- Fallen lorry blocks roundabout

- Taxi drivers to keep an eye on residents' safety

- Weyhill car boot given planning permission

- Faberstown girl inspires doll

- Woman criticises judge after attacker given fine

- Beloved GP retires after 35 years

- Two pages of YOUR letters

- And much, much more

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