A phased reopening of tourism businesses in Cornwall is one suggestion for how the sector may start to recover as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Cornwall Council leader Julian German said that the authority was in discussions with businesses and tourism groups to look at how the industry might operate once the government allows places to reopen to visitors.

And he warned that the county would not be able to welcome the same number of people it normally would in a summer season.

The independent councillor was clear though that the plans being drawn up are for the future and not today.

“The government guidance remains that no overnight stays and going to second homes are allowed and we totally support that.

“We are not advocating anything to change at the moment, we are looking at the future and anything will be based on when it is safe to do so.”

The council has been working with Visit Cornwall – the independent body which has many tourism businesses as members – as well as the chamber of commerce and other organisations.

And while the hope is that by late summer there might be the opportunity to welcome visitors they know it will not be business as usual.

Cllr German said: “If movement is free and easy by August then we would still assume there would be social distancing measures in place.

“There has to be a discussion about the number of people we would be able to have in Cornwall in order to keep people safe. We would not be able to have the same number of people that we would normally have in a summer season.”

As a result the talks have focussed on which businesses might be able to operate under social distancing guidelines.

Cllr German said that while it could be fairly simple for self-contained self-catering accommodation to be adapted it would be much more difficult for small bed and breakfast accommodation.

“It is looking at what would be appropriate and we are also looking at some kind of accreditation scheme so that visitors will feel safe and comfortable in the accommodation that is available.”

However while this would help some businesses to start opening it could mean that some would have to remain closed.

The council leader said: “There may be something about not all businesses being open – some may open and some may be willing to stay closed because we can’t have that number of people. But we have to consider how they would be supported and how could they be recompensed.”

While many of the discussions have focused around the summer there is also some thought about the rest of the year.

Cllr German said: “With a lot of people unable to come to Cornwall this summer we are hopeful that some will transfer to later in the year and come in the autumn and winter.

“If the regulations and guidelines have eased further by then we could look at pushing the autumn and winter and extend the season that way.

“If it is safe and we can get more people through in the autumn and winter hopefully they end up having a great time and that will get repeat visitors and help created a more year-round tourism industry.”