HOTELIERS in Southampton have welcomed the “roadmap” out of lockdown – but say the government will have to provide more help to the industry before it reopens.

Southampton Region Hoteliers Association has voiced frustration that hospitality and events are last on the list for reopening and face another three or four months of closure.

Nathan Chart, chair of the Southampton Region Hoteliers Association said, “I welcome the road map laid out by the government and am pleased to have reopening dates for our members to work towards for our teams and guests alike.

“I support the government’s attempts to ensure an irreversible reopening of our economy and recognise the balancing act they must tread.

“However, I am disappointed that hospitality appears to have been given less priority by the government than other sectors, such as non-essential retail, and will be one of the last businesses to open.

“Our industry has worked tirelessly to ensure hotels operate in a Covid-secure way and we stand ready to welcome leisure guests, something I believe could have been allowed from April 12 for single household bookings.

“With at least three further months until our hotels can welcome leisure guests back, we now eagerly look to the chancellor’s budget to ensure the continuation of support is offered through an extension of business rate relief, the continuation of five per cent VAT and furlough to support our industry as it rebuilds through the remainder of this year.”

Rishi Sunak is to deliver his budget on Wednesday, March 3.

“One thing is for certain, hotels are ready and waiting to welcome guests for a great British summer staycation,” said Mr Chart.

It will take until at least June 21 before the “rule of six” in hospitality is lifted and there will be no limit on the capacity for events such as wedding receptions and wakes.

Wakes and weddings for up to 15 people will be allowed from April 12 at the earliest, while hospitality venues will be able to serve outside subject to a rule of six people or two households. Self-contained accommodation for single households will be allowed to open.

From May 17 at the earliest, hotels will be able to open to all guests subject to the rule of six people or two households. Weddings and wakes will be able to hold up to 30 people and indoor events will be permitted for up to 1,000 people or 50 capacity.

Shirley Wynne-Jones, managing director of the conference bureau Destination Southampton, said: “Monday’s announcements brought some welcome news to the event sector, specifically a cautious re-start for the event industry from May 17, with safety measures in place.

“We will be working closely with organisers of major business events in the city to provide additional support with their event plans. Furthermore, I am certain Southampton will once more be a vibrant destination for major events and business conferences following the expected end to lockdown measures in June.”