IT’S been a torrid three months for businesses as they grappled with the terrible effects of coronavirus.

But this weekend gave them a glimmer of hope as Super Saturday arrived, hopefully marking the start of a summer of a resurgence in trade.

Painstaking planning paid off for businesses as they re-opened on Saturday morning with comprehensive safety measures in place.

Firms said they will be “learning as they go” but were “pleasantly surprised” by the support customers showed as cafés, restaurants, hairdressers and amusements opened back up across Southend on Saturday.

Heightened security, cleanliness and protection were deployed across all firms to make customers felt as safe as possible.

Marc Miller, managing director of Stockvale Group - which runs Adventure Island and Sea-Life Adventure, said: “We are just ecstatic to be open.

“It’s all about how people feel about getting out, the feedback has been brilliant.

“We had all the staff in for a big question and answer session, which went really well.

“We’ve unfurloughed about 450 staff and now we are actively recruiting, there’s 25 new recruits today.

“We will have feedback from the day to see how we can improve.”

Anthony Tomassi, owner of Tomassi’s Cafe and Restaurant in the High Street, spent more than £3,000 to make his business Covid-secure, including face shields for all staff, shields between booths and tables.

He now has 37 members of staff back working after being on furlough.

He said: “We’ve followed the regulations as far as we can. It’s been really very hard.

“I’ve been coming in for the last ten days since we got the go ahead.

“I never envisaged it would cost so much but we have had very positive feedback.

“Lots of our regulars have come back, they have missed us.

“The café has been full at times, the restaurant was not so busy but that is going to take longer.

“It’s been a real pleasant surprise.”

Stylers Unisex Hair Professionals reduced the number of chairs from nine to five and have four staff working with protective gear.

A spokesman said: “People are saying it is the new normal, but everyone feels safe.

“We do not have our toilets open, apart from customers here for more than two hours. If they are used, they are cleaned straight away.”

There were reports from across the UK of issues late on Saturday from drunken revellers.

However, a spokesman for Basildon police said: “To the residents of Basildon, Billericay and Wickford, we would like to say thank you for making our job tonight pass with ease without a single incident on the re opening of pubs and restaurants.”

Basildon’s council leader, Gavin Callaghan, also praised the good-natured response, adding: “I’ve been out and about this morning across the borough. Lots of people being really sensible and playing by the rules on our high streets.”

“Thank you, let’s hope it continues through the afternoon and evening.”

Star Amusements, which runs six seafront arcades, set up a QR code or a link for people to securely enter contact details to help with track and trace.

John Joseph, operations manager who designed the system, said: “It’s a secure registration form so you just put in your name, telephone number and address for the NHS track and trace so we can get in touch with customers.”

“I’ve seen some companies use clipboards and paper, but this felt like the best for the customers and the most effective way to be secure.

“Everyone has been respectful to the rules since we opened, we’ve got an extra member of full time staff and three full-time cleaners in this site.

“We’ve got ten hand sanitising stations in each arcade, we got in 60 overall.”

“We’d rather be over cautious than under cautious.”

The weather remained cloudy but dry on the Saturday, which temperatures at around 20 degrees.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said no “major” cases of disorder had been recorded as a result of pubs reopening.

“We are pleased to report that as of Sunday afternoon, there have been no major issues to deal with,” he said.

“This is due to businesses, a number of council teams, and Essex Police working hard and working together to prepare for the reopening of more services and industries this weekend, and to comply with the new guidance issued by Government.

“It is also thanks to residents and visitors to Southend, who largely complied with new restrictions and measures in places, observed social distancing for the most part, following handwashing guidance and the rules of individual establishments.”