Hotels and Guest Accommodations Advice During COVID-19

For owners and operators of hotels, B&Bs, campsites and other guest accommodation services, the safety of customers should always be a priority. Furthermore, given the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of safety must be given even more attention.

As of 10th August, government guidance is allowing private rooms—such as en suite showering facilities, or one designated shower facility per guest room—in all indoor accommodations to reopen. Shared toilet facilities are also allowed to reopen. Shared toilet and shower facilities in the same room can reopen, but guests are only allowed to use showers if they are assigned to only one household or support bubble, or if they run using a reservation and cleaning rota.

Meanwhile, dormitory rooms must remain closed unless all guests are from the same household or support bubble. Similarly, other indoor shared facilities in which social distancing cannot be guaranteed, such as kitchens, may not reopen at this time.

Not all businesses involved in guest accommodations are the same. Between hotels, campsites and other services, there are a variety of precautions that must be considered for different establishments.

Hotels, Hostels, Guesthouses and B&Bs

For hotels, hostels and B&Bs, there are a number of extremely important precautionary policies and procedures that must be strongly considered in order to protect not only guests, but also employees and others on the premises:

  • Take measures to make reception areas safer, by increasing the amount of cleaning while also limiting the amount of time that guests spend in the area as much as possible. The installation of screens between guests and staff should also be highly considered.
  • Consider minimising lift usage, and provide clear signage for new lift rules.
  • When offering room service, take measures such as dropping butler’s trays outside the door, and encouraging tips be added to the bill instead of given in cash.
  • Ensure that housekeeping staff follow government handwashing guidelines, and make a checklist of all hand contact surfaces to be cleaned when each guest vacates.
  • Encourage guests to wear face coverings in communal corridors.
  • Check the latest government guidance regarding the opening of additional guest facilities, such as those that provide beauty treatments.
  • Ensure that any bar or dining area is only opened in a way that is compliant with UK government guidance in the hospitality sector.
  • Limit indoor meetings to up to 30 people, and be certain that they take place in permitted venues in which social distancing can be maintained and other COVID-19 safety guidance satisfied.
  • Do not allow large wedding receptions or parties. Any celebration after a ceremony should follow the broader social distancing guidance of involving no more than two households in any location or, if outdoors, up to six people from different households.
  • Close dormitory rooms unless housing parties are from the same household or support bubble.
  • Close communal or shared facilities where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, such as kitchens or TV rooms.
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day, with particular regard to any shared facilities.
  • Take all possible steps to reduce the risk of transmission in shared shower, changing and toilet facilities, including:
    • Either close shared shower facilities or assign them to one household group or support bubble. These facilities should be cleaned thoroughly between each household or support bubble.
    • Where showers and toilets are shared, set clear use and cleaning guidance to maximise cleanliness. Keep facilities clear of personal items and make sure that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
    • Make information available to guests on the increased risk of using these facilities.
    • Where possible, increase safe ventilation.
  • Clean keys between guests.

Caravan Parks and Campsites

Caravan parks and campsites may have limited physical barriers between people from different households or support bubbles. As such, it is important to consider the following measures:

  • Take measures to make reception areas safer, with increased cleaning while also limiting the amount of time that guests spend in the area as much as possible. The installation of screens between guests and staff should also be highly considered.
  • Close communal or shared facilities where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, such as kitchens or TV rooms.
  • Take all possible steps to reduce the risk of transmission in shared shower, changing and toilet facilities, including:
    • Assign one group of washing and showering facilities per household group.
    • Where showers and toilets are shared, set clear use and cleaning guidance to maximise cleanliness. Keep facilities clear of personal items and make sure that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day, with particular regard to any shared facilities.
  • Consider staggering entry and implementing a booking system for specific timeslots in regard to the use of showering facilities.
  • Make information available to guests regarding the increased risk of using shared facilities.
  • Where possible, increase safe ventilation.
  • Close any indoor children’s play areas.
  • Ensure that any bar or dining area is only opened in a way that is compliant with UK government guidance in the hospitality sector.

Universal Precautions

While there may be an ample amount of variance between different types of guest accommodation establishments and the types of safety measures that they must implement, the general need to simply limit the amount of contact between guests and employees is of paramount importance. In order to minimise contact, all accommodation services should consider these general guidelines:

  • Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses.
  • Collaborate with neighbours and local authorities to consider how to reduce congestion related to guest arrivals.
  • Encourage guests to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises and regularly during their stay as they move between areas.
  • Take measures to avoid congestion in reception areas, such as by staggering check-in and check-out times or placing markers on the floor to maintain social distancing.
  • Determine whether schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people.
  • Make staff accessible to guests via phone, email and guest apps.
  • Encourage contactless payments or pre-payments for rooms as part of the online booking process.
  • When serving food or drink, take care to:
    • Maintain social distancing on the premises.
    • Provide disposable condiments and cutlery.
    • Encourage contactless payments.
    • Ensure all outdoor areas have sufficient ventilation.
    • Adjust service approaches to minimise contact between staff and guests.
    • Do not allow guests to crowd around bars or in other areas.
    • When applicable, ask customers to order room service over the telephone rather than visit the premises themselves to place their order.

It is of the utmost importance that establishments make new and altered precautionary measures known to their guests. Provide clear guidance on social distancing and other rules through your website, pre-arrival emails, signage and other visual aids. Additionally, consider the needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those with impaired vision.

Facility Management

Guest accommodation establishments must also implement strict cleaning procedures to be carried out frequently and diligently, and consider adjustments to even the normal physical layout of the premises, such as propping open more windows and doors to encourage ventilation.

Establishments that have been closed for an extended period of time should check on ventilation systems and revisit all cleaning procedures, especially those pertaining to surfaces that are touched frequently, such as door handles and lift buttons. Consider removing items that are contacted by multiple guests, such as newspapers.

Housekeeping must be done with particular care. Consider the following practices during this process:

  • Maintain social distancing during housekeeping. If a guest is in the room, request that they leave during housekeeping unless they are self-isolating.
  • Focus on cleaning all hand contact surfaces in the room.
  • Consider removing any items that are not likely to be needed by guests.
  • Remove and clean all glasses and crockery between guests.
  • Towels and linens should be washed in accordance with washing instructions. The frequency of the cycle of cleaning and in-room services should be reviewed to take into account different lengths of stay.

For kitchen and food service staff, the following cleaning measures should be implemented:

  • Follow government guidance on cleaning food preparation and food service areas.
  • Provide bins for collection of used towels and staff overalls.
  • Instruct employees to wash their hands before handling plates or cutlery.
  • Require frequent handwashing.
  • Consider the need for any additional cleaning measures.

General hygiene guidelines for both staff and guests should be enforced and provided for. Establishments should provide ample handwashing, hand sanitising and hand drying facilities, especially in certain areas, such as restrooms or toilets. It is also recommended that signs and posters be used in order to remind both employees and customers of these practices.

Other cleaning procedures—such as doing laundry or handling goods arriving on shared vehicles—should also be assessed and enhanced.

Playing It Safe

Despite reopening efforts, the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases continues to loom over the UK. Those involved in guest accommodation services must take every possible precaution in order to maximise the safety of their customers and staff. UK Hospitality has also released even more extensive guidance for various types of guest accommodation services.

As an additional precaution, establishments should assist the NHS in its efforts to trace cases of COVID-19. Owners and operators should maintain a temporary record of customers and guests over the preceding 21 days, including their names and contact information. In the event that a guest who has visited the premises tests positive for COVID-19, being able to reach others who may have come into contact with that person may help to contain an outbreak.

For more information regarding safe practices during the coronavirus pandemic, contact us today.

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