COVID has hardly been child’s play for any businesses but one of Worcestershire’s leading indoor play centres can spot the green shoots of recovery.

Imagination Street on the outskirts of Redditch will reopen on Monday, May 17 with owner Kevin Grubb reporting much higher interest than last winter.

Restrictions meant the business had to run at 40 per cent capacity back then, as it does now, but worries over the pandemic meant that upper limit was rarely reached.

But on the back of a flurry of interest, Mr Grubb anticipates a different story this time despite being required to have down time for cleaning and implement many of the ongoing Covid measures.

“We opened up bookings on Tuesday morning and the feedback has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

“The pent-up demand is there and we cannot wait to reopen. The staff are all chomping at the bit to come back in and it is really encouraging.

“When we came back in October there was a lot of caution. We were not hitting the 40 per cent very often but now, when you look at the statistics and vaccination programme, when you look outside the pubs are spilling out. People just want to see other people, and not necessarily outdoors.

“There is a lot more activity all round so the vibes are very positive because there has been a huge amount of investment in making things Covid secure.”

Cheeky Monkeys, on Orchard Street, Worcester, will not be among those to reopen right away having used lockdown to create a sensory room.

It will host baby sensory, relaxation and yoga classes among other things and is set to host all children, including those with specific sensory needs.

Owner Kevin Fletcher is hopeful the work will be completed in time to reopen for May half-term.

“There is a lack of things to do for children with those needs but the facilities will be for everyone,” said Mr Fletcher.

“It is important to remember there are children out there who have had no sensory stimulation or wellbeing over the past year and there will be one-and-a-half year olds who haven't had any at all.”

And while May 17 is not his red-letter day, Mr Fletcher says the lifting of restrictions will be “hugely important”.

“Things have been really tough, particularly as we received no insurance because Covid-19 was unheard of,” he added.

“It will be particularly important for the customers, children being able to run around and enjoy themselves is something they need at that age.”