Wightlink is to launch a promotion to draw visitors to the Isle of Wight from July 4 when the government relaxes hospitality and tourism travel restrictions.

New Covid-compliant protocols have been introduced on the company’s ferries, with passengers required to wear face coverings on all crossings.

Rival Red Funnel resumed a high speed Red Jet service between Southamtpon and Cowes today (Monday) after a 72-day suspension. Capacity has been reduced by 54% to a maximum of 148 passengers.

Capacity has also been cut by Wightlink and signage introduced to comply with social distancing measures.

The company’s Portsmouth-Fishbourne route is currently operating a temporarily reduced timetable, with additional sailings being added from July 13.

The Lymington-Yarmouth car ferry and Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier Head FastCat services remain suspended.

Wightlink chief executive Keith Greeenfield said: “While our ferries have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, providing travel for key workers to and from the Isle of Wight, as well as facilitating the flow of essential goods and services, we are well and truly ready and are launching a campaign to welcome more passengers back on board.

“With hotels, B&Bs and campsites on the island also eager to accommodate guests, we’re incredibly keen to receive visitors looking to relax and enjoy a long-wanted break post-lockdown”.

Red Funnel chief executive Fran Collins said: “Behind the scenes we have been working hard to meet government guidelines for health and safety and ensure all social distancing measures, signage and processes are in place.

“We’ve also been keeping the Jets active with a weekly maintenance routine and we’re happy to report that we’re ready to safely welcome passengers back onboard.

“Whilst we’re starting with a restricted service, we will be closely monitoring the situation regarding customer demand and will adapt our operations and timetables to ensure we continue to support our customers in line with the latest government guidance.”