Hotels reopened to guests at the weekend for the first time since lockdown rules were imposed over three months ago – and Weymouth owners were thrilled to welcome customers back to their establishments.

Tourism has been badly impacted by the coronavirus crisis with restrictions on movement and staying overnight in different homes among the freedoms which were prohibited until recently.

On Saturday, hotels and B&Bs were finally able to throw open their doors and welcome guests back inside, although many decided to have a 'soft reopening' to see how the new safety measures they had put in place worked and to ensure guests and staff were comfortable with a new regime.

Steve Dorman, owner of the Alexandra Hotel in Weymouth, said: "It is fantastic to have people back in the hotel. We have done a nice, gentle reopening and only had two guests booked for Saturday night and another two on Sunday to give ourselves some latitude and make sure it is safe.

"A gentle reopening gives us a chance to make sure the guests and staff are comfortable and confident in the new way of doing things. We are about half full next weekend. It is great to be back open."

Ali and Kim Pearson came down from Wiltshire to celebrate their wedding anniversary at the Alexandra Hotel.

They said: "We have been coming down to Weymouth regularly for the last 25 years and always stay at this hotel. We decided not to visit when it was the really hot weather a couple of weeks go as we didn't think it was fair to locals. We are not concerned about coronavirus as long as we are sensible."

For some hotels and B&Bs, the chance to reopen has been one they thought they might never have. Some have been concerned that they may close down after having no trade for more than three months and, despite being able to reopen, that fear has not gone away.

A staff member from the Lantana guesthouse on Weymouth harbourside said: "We have a couple of bookings for upcoming weekends but no weekday trade at all. The industry has been hit so hard by coronavirus and I'm just hoping next year is better. We've just got to take it step by step."

Kirstine and Dave Taylor, owners of the Chatsworth Hotel in Weymouth, said: "We have kept it fairly quiet on purpose for our first weekend back. In normal times we would be at 95% capacity at this time of year but, with our current bookings for the next few weeks, we are looking at roughly 45% full.

"We are grateful for anything after three months of lockdown and so happy we still have a business to open. We all need to try to get back on our feet after lockdown."