How Safe are Hotels During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The Holiday season is approaching, and many Americans are beginning to plan their vacations or staycations. When travelers decide to book a hotel stay, there are many things to take into consideration as a result of the pandemic. What method of travel will they take and what are the safety concerns? Which amenities are available to guests and what are the restrictions? How many staff and guests will they be interacting with? What cleaning standards have hotels adopted to decrease the spread of COVID-19? And what can guests expect from their hotel stays during a global pandemic.
How Safe Are Hotels?
The Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases created a chart that ranks the risk of acquiring a COVID-19 infection by the activity type. The ranking system operates off of the premise that proper safety precautions are taken by individuals during these activities. The chart ranks activities from level 1 to level 9, activities listed in levels 1 and 2 are considered low risk undertakings and activities in the level 8 and 9 categories are considered to have a high risk of exposure to the COVID-19. A two-night hotel stay is considered to pose a low-moderate risk and ranks as a level 4 risk activity. And poses the same risks as sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, going to the library or museum and eating at an outdoor restaurant. Given that the proper precautions are taken, hotels are a safer option than working out at the gym, eating at a buffet or attending large events.
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The Safe Travel Barometer
The Safe Travel Barometer is a database that offers travelers access to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Travelers can get information regarding COVID-19 safety, as well as traveler experience initiatives. A savvy traveler that wants to stay abreast of what safety measures are in place from the time they leave their homes, up until the end of their trip, can find a wealth of information from the Safe Travel Barometer. Information can be provided based on destinations, cruises, short term rentals, airlines and hotels to list a few. The Travel Barometer monitors over 50 health and safety and travel experience initiatives to give travelers the most up to date information.
Travelers can get information regarding the following:
- Information regarding whether hotels provide thermal screening of guests before they enter hotel premises.
- Requirement of face masks for guests and if they are provided by the hotel.
- Providing sanitizers for guests.
- Information about whether guestrooms are regularly sanitized.
- Information on the requirement of employees to wear a face mask.
The database also provides information regarding your travel as well, such as contactless baggage drop-off, contactless immigration kiosks, COVID-19 tests on arrival and the associated costs. Travelers can also get access to a Safe Travel Score that takes into consideration the COVID-19 safety protocols, the traveler’s convenience and the quality of service in order to offer ratings on airlines and airports.
What Are Hotels Doing to Mitigate the Risks
In April of 2020, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) implemented the Safe Stay initiative to provide the hotel industry with cleaning and safety guidelines. The initiative was recently enhanced to include protocols that adhered to the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for hotel operations. Safe Stay was updated to include procedures for hotel meetings and events. The updated initiative also includes safety measures to enhance elevator and food service operations, workplace health and safety measures and the changes to room cleaning in order to limit the interaction between guests and staff. According to the AHLA, a frequent traveler’s survey revealed that 88 percent of travelers felt more comfortable with limiting room cleaning to a request only basis. And 58 percent did not require any room cleaning services during their entire hotel stay.
The AHLA also created a Safe Stay Guest Checklist that provided guests with guidelines to ensure that they had a safe hotel stay.
Safe Stay Guest Check List:
Face coverings required
Practice Social Distancing
Required in all indoor public spaces and common areas
Choose contactless options, where available
This includes online reservations, check-ins, and payments
Consider daily room cleaning, only if necessary
Ask the hotel about your options
Request contactless room service delivery
Choose to have room service delivered outside of the guest room.
Refrain from traveling if ill
This includes if you have, or recently had, any symptoms of COVID-19 or had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Safe Stay initiative also includes an online course that is designed for hotel employees at all levels that trains staff on safety and cleanliness guidelines. The course is also offered in Spanish and employees are awarded a certificate upon completion.
Information at Your Fingertips
Information regarding different travel and hotel policies are at the fingertips of consumers. The CDC provides COVID-19 data and Johns Hopkins University provides travelers with COVID-19 tracking based on destination. In addition, many hotels have adopted their own policies to ensure the safety of their employees and guests. There are a number of cleaning technologies that hotels have the option of implementing and the hotel industry has implemented stringent safety measures. All the pertinent information regarding hotel safety is easily accessible, it is the traveler’s responsibility to do the appropriate research and ask the important questions to ensure that they have the best hotel experience possible.