HOSPITALITY leaders across Bournemouth are urging people to “go out now” following an easing of restrictions, with businesses are left “running on fumes” after a bleak Christmas.

The founder of hospitality group Wonky Table, Andy Lennox, said: “It’s welcome news but hopefully it’s not too late for a lot of people.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel obviously and everyone’s looking forward to the summer but the key bit is that a lot of hospitality businesses are going to struggle to get there.”

Mr Lennox, who runs the Zim Braai and Nusara restaurants, saw 250 bookings cancelled in just one week when limits on socialising were recommended in December.

'Restrictions are off, go and have a nice meal'

Bournemouth Echo: Founder of Wonky Table Andy LennoxFounder of Wonky Table Andy Lennox

He added: “Restrictions are off, go and have a nice meal somewhere because actually there are a lot of places that really need that trade now.

“A lot of venues rely on December and they didn’t have that so they are running on fumes.

“If you didn’t go out in December and you didn’t do your usual drinks with friends etc, forget dry January - go out and have a nice meal.”

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The prime minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday, January 27, Covid passes showing vaccine status or a recent negative test will no longer be compulsory to gain entry to venues and events and face masks will no longer be compulsory in public spaces.

Kris Gumbrell, Bournemouth-based chief executive of the Brewhouse & Kitchen group, said: “It’s a welcome relief, the timing is interesting, but it comes as a welcome relief after what has been a very challenging December and January.

Bournemouth Echo: Kris Gumbrell chief executive of the Brewhouse and Kitchen groupKris Gumbrell chief executive of the Brewhouse and Kitchen group

“We’re pleased as a sector that cases are coming down and that the country is now going to live with the endemic virus and not a pandemic virus."

'Hopefully there won't be anymore lockdowns'

Harry Seccombe, owner of Chaplin’s and the Cellar Bar in Boscombe, said: “It’s great news and it seems like we’re coming to the end of a very long journey for the hospitality industry.

“It’s been very stressful so that’s good news and hopefully means we’re coming to the end of it and there won’t be anymore lockdowns.

“It’ll be a lot of pressure off of hospitality because it’s affected us all massively and we’re very lucky to still be here really.”

Bournemouth Echo: Harry Seccombe owner of Chaplins and the Cellar BarHarry Seccombe owner of Chaplins and the Cellar Bar

The easing of restrictions is expected to be a welcome boost to the local economy.

Deputy leader at BCP Council, Cllr Philip Broadhead said: “I think it’s important to note how important the hospitality industry in particular is to the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area - it brings in over £100million per month to the local economy and they have continually been at the front of the impacts of the pandemic since it all began."

“So anything that can help them get back on their feet with some immediacy is clearly very very welcomed.”