This week’s Government announcement that hotels can re-open their doors to guests from July 4 has been welcomed by the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA).
Many of its member establishments are now working to ensure that they are ‘Covid safe’ in order to be able to welcome back paying customers and begin to get back in business.
Like many businesses in the hospitality sector nationwide, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on BHA members.
But the Government’s easing of the lockdown rules, and of the two-metre social distancing requirements, means the BHA is keen to look to the future.
Raphael Herzog, BHA Chair, said: “The Government’s announcement that the hospitality sector re-open from July 4 is, indeed, very good news.
“Ideally, we would have preferred it the announcement to have been made sooner, but now that we have a date, we can all focus on getting ready to re-open our hotels.
“We will all need to implement new procedures and measures, to ensure that we are Covid-safe. As always, the health and safety of our staff and our guests is of utmost importance.
“That means that not every hotel will be opening its doors on July 4, as each business will have unique characteristics and challenges to overcome, but the Government’s announcement this week gives us the green light to start properly preparing.
“Many hotels are planning to open in early July, with others aiming for August or even later, depending upon demand in the city.
“Many, many, people – those who have been confined to their homes for many weeks as well as others who have been working flat-out during the crisis – will feel that they want, need and deserve a break but they will also want to know that the place they choose to stay in is going to be as safe as possible. We really welcome to words from the PM on people to Staycation this summer in order to boost the UK economy
“All our members will be working hard to ensure that when they re-open their hotels, they will be as safe as they possibly can be.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for many businesses, and we have a duty to ensure we take every possible precaution to reduce the risk of a further spike in coronavirus cases, while at the same time trying to get our hotels back in business as much as possible.
“Some premises have been completely closed during the lockdown, while others have provided accommodation for essential key workers.
“Undoubtedly there will still be some difficult times ahead for many businesses, but we are all very much looking forward to welcoming back guests – old and new – to our hotels.”
He added that the experience of visiting any hotel is going to be very different to what it was before the pandemic.
He said: “Many hotels and other tourism operators will need to adapt, using technology such as on-line check-ins, apps to enable people to order food and drinks, even drive-through check-ins.
“We are all going to have to adapt and re-think the way we do things.”
Mr Herzog said while this week’s announcement is a welcome one, much more needs to happen before hotels can be more confident of being able to survive in the longer-term.
“We need to see the larger meetings, conferences and weddings return, which make a vital contribution to the economic viability of many hotels in the city.
“We are allowed to accommodate weddings involving up to 30 people in July, which will be reviewed hopefully in August.
“Spa and leisure facilities are also an important income generator for many hotels, and the sooner these can be re-opened, the better it will be, so there is still a very difficult road ahead for many businesses.”
He said there are measures that the Government can introduce which could help, including reducing VAT to 15 percent, and extending the length of time that the furlough scheme can be used by the hospitality and leisure sector, which is one of the last industries to benefit from a lifting of lockdown restrictions.