PUB-goers appeared to have heeded official advice to drink responsibly when they visited their local on Super Saturday.

There was a highly visible police presence in Trowbridge and many market towns across west Wiltshire yesterday to make sure the first day of re-opening following lockdown restrictions being relaxed passed without major incident.

Earlier in the day, police and other official bodies had posted messages urging pub-goers to enjoy themselves and play their part by acting responsibly.

Wiltshire Police said: “Practise social distancing and good hand hygiene to reduce the risk to you and others.

“Whilst we want people to have a good time, we must remember that coronavirus remains a serious threat.”

Pub landlords across the area said that trade had been slow but steady and were able to cope with the numbers of visitors who did venture out to enjoy a pint at their local and meet up with friends.

At the Albany Palace Wetherspoon pub in Park Road, Trowbridge, staff were greeting customers at the door and explaining what they should do.

Inside, customers Chris Challoner, 23, from Bishops Cannings, was meeting up with his friend Jamie Shiner, 25, from Wiltshire Drive in Trowbridge.

“We haven’t seen each other for about 12 weeks, so we’ve met up to have a chat and a few beers,” said Mr Shiner.

Mr Challoner added: “We’ve both been for a haircut and decided to meet up afterwards.”

Nearby, John Barry 72, was also chatting to his old friend, Peter Sumsion, 74. The pair used to work together.

“We’ve come in for a meal and a pint”, said Mr Barry. “We’re old work colleagues from James Ladd’s Yard, so we meet up when we can. It’s our bit of freedom.”

Staff said the pub “had not been as busy” as it would normally be. One employee added: “That’s good, because we have got things under control”.

It seemed that many pubs that re-opened on Super Saturday experienced a slow start.

That may have been due to yesterday’s weather, with showers forecast for the afternoon.

At the Tollgate Inn in Holt, pub managers Mark and Laura Hodges said they had taken every precaution to keep staff and customers as safe as possible.

The pub re-opened at 12 noon, with two customers, Don Gray, 72, and John Robertson, 62, to be found waiting patiently outside.

Mr Robertson said: “We usually come down on a Saturday with Colin Dunford, who is 90, but he’s too frightened to come out at the moment.

“We normally drink Guinness but they haven’t got any in, so we’re drinking Thatcher’s cider.

“We normally come down to the pub and have a couple of drinks and sit and chat with Colin.”

Mr Gray said: “It’s nice to come out and have a drink and see more people instead of sitting in the garden with a can. It has been nice to see the girls at the bar and have a chat.”

Mr Hodges said the Tollgate has been forced to introduce strict new regulations before allowing customers to come inside the pub.

“They are only allowed in if they have reserved a table and will have to sanitise their hands.

“Normally, we have 19 tables but we are down to about 10, but we have about 20 tables outside in the beer garden.

“No-one is allowed in unless they’ve booked a table, and unless there is a table available for them.

“We’re having to take their details, name, address and telephone number, and to keep them for up to 21 days.

“We’re also having to make sure that customers comply with the one-metre plus social distancing rules.”

Only six people maximum are allowed to sit down at the tables, and they can only be from two households.

Outside, there is a maximum of six people at each table but they can be from different households as long as they adhere to the social distancing rules.

Mr Hodges added: “It’s just nice to be open again. We haven’t been able to trade for three and a half months, except for takeaways.

“There is no way that trade is going to come back to the way it was before. Most of our customers are retired.

“However, we have put everything in place so that everybody will be as safe as they possibly can be.

“If the sun were out, the beer garden would be rammed with drinkers but trade is not going to be what it was.

“The village has been very supportive of us and they will come down for a drink when they’re ready to.

“Most of our tables for this evening are reserved, so we’re almost fully booked.”

Some customers came out early to have a pint at the Wetherspoons pub, The Bear in Melksham, which opened at 6am for breakfast.

Elsewhere, many pub operators, such as the Greene King chain, are not re-opening until Monday.

Some breweries and pub operators are planning to stagger re-openings over the next two weeks, while some pubs may not re-open until next month.

Many publicans are waiting to see how other pubs – and their customers – cope with the new social distancing rules.

For some, the layouts of their interiors are likely to prohibit re-opening until the new rules are completely relaxed.