Posted on: 10 March 2021
COVID-19 safety when reopening your hotel or accommodation business
The hospitality industry has been severely affected by COVID-19, with the industry being one of the hardest hit by lockdowns and business closures.
When businesses are allowed to open following lockdown, they must continue to operate safely to help prevent customers from being exposed to COVID-19. Take a look at some of these tips on how to run your hotel or accommodation business safely once this sector is allowed to reopen.
Hotels, Guesthouses and B&Bs
If you run one of these types of businesses, consider the following policies to keep customers safe from COVID-19 whilst staying with you.
Reception area safety
The reception area of your business is one of the areas where COVID-19 is most likely to spread, due to this being an area where people tend to congregate as they wait to check-in, or have an enquiry.
Once your business is allowed to reopen, use signage and barriers to keep customers at a safe distance of two metres apart.
You should also keep staff safe by requiring them to keep a safe distance from each other behind the counter of the reception. You should also install a plastic barrier between the customer and your receptionist, asking them to wear a mask in public areas is also good practice.
If your business has a lift, customers should only share it with members of their household or their support bubble. Using a member of staff to monitor lift usage is impractical, and could also put your member of staff in more danger.
Instead, use signs to encourage customers to only use the lift with members of their household or their support bubble.
You should also continue to have your lift maintained, and ensure that the maintenance worker is wearing PPE and keeping a safe distance from your guests.
Room service is a convenient and enjoyable way for customers to enjoy food or drinks in their room, however, due to COVID-19, it may not necessarily be safe to have a member of your staff bring items to customers and take cash.
Instead, if you are offering room service, instruct staff to leave items by the door, and charge your customer at the end of their stay.
You could also choose to not offer room service whilst there could be a risk of transmitting COVID-19. Should you choose to not offer room service, remember to communicate this to guests to set their expectations.
All cleaning should be done in line with government guidance on cleaning.
In rooms, all surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned every time a customer vacates their room.
In communal areas, such as entrances, foyers, reception areas, all surfaces, door handles or buttons should be cleaned regularly.
You may wish to amend your cleaning routines and procedures to ensure both your guests and your staff remain safe.
Face masks have been pivotal in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the UK and should continue to be used even as the threat of COVID-19 transmission is reduced.
Encourage both customers and staff to wear face masks to help prevent the spread.
If you offer a bar facility or dining setting for your customers, make sure that you only open it in line with relevant government guidance on public dining.
If social distancing in communal areas, such as dining rooms, kitchens or TV rooms, can’t be observed, then they should be closed.
If you operate a spa at your hotel or guest facilities that offer beauty or hair treatments, make sure you only operate these in line with government guidelines.
Conference and event facilities
If you have the facilities for events, such as weddings, you should only operate these in line with government guidance.
Even in full lockdowns, people were still allowed a certain amount of people at an event, but just keep track of the government guidance to make sure that you’re operating as you should be. You should also only allow guests on-site for these kinds of events for as long as the rules say that you are allowed to.
Some accommodation businesses have shared facilities, which you will need to pay particular focus on if this applies to you.
- Showers – Either close these facilities down or assign particular facilities to particular families
- Toilets – For shared toilets, display clear guidance on how to keep the facility clean to be courteous to other guests, and for COVID-19 safety.
- Further guidance – Make further guidance about how to safely use shared facilities available at the reception for guests to read.
- Ventilation – Where possible, improve airflow around your premises to help remove any COVID-19 particles from shared areas.
Make sure that your staff know the importance of keeping keys and key cards clean between rooms being vacated and re-occupied by your guests.
Caravan parks are slightly different to hotels, hostels and B&Bs in that your guests may often bring their caravan with them, but you will still need to take precautions to ensure that guests are safe from COVID-19
Similarly to hotels, hostels and B&Bs, you will likely have a reception area where your guests might wait for check-in or ask questions.
Consider installing screens between customers and your receptionists, and put up signage and barriers to keep your guests a safe distance apart.
Any communal areas where social distancing cannot be observed, such as kitchens, showers or toilets should be closed. If social distancing is possible, consider some of these tips to keep COVID-19 at bay:
- Assign households or bubbles to one of the facilities, where possible.
- Set clear guidance on how to use and clean the facilities safely.
- Encourage guests to not leave personal items in shared facilities.
You should also provide information on the risks of using shared areas to ensure that guests follow the rules, and are aware of the possible consequences of being exposed to COVID-19.
Where possible, create better ventilation in communal areas, such as installing air vents and keeping windows open.
Indoor children’s play areas should also be closed until it is safe to re-open them, and signage should be displayed at any outdoor play area to keep parents aware of the risks of COVID-19.
All facilities should be subject to enhanced cleaning routines at the start and end of every day.
Pay particular focus to shared areas, especially as toilets will likely be used overnight.
Where systems allow, consider a staggered approach to entry for guests.
Allocate time slots for arrival so that guests aren’t spending too much time around each other whilst waiting to check-in.
Bar areas should only be open in line with guidance from the UK government.
General hospitality guidance
We have tried to cover off most of the risks associated with hotels, hostels, B&Bs, caravan parks and camp sites, but other pieces of guidance may apply to the wider hospitality sector too. Take a look at some of the general guideline for hospitality businesses.
Queues represent a risk to your guests due to the chance of spreading COVID-19. You will need to manage your queues to ensure that guests aren’t too close to each other.
Use signage, posters and barriers to keep guests a safe distance apart.
Provide hand sanitiser at reception areas and shared facilities if you have kept them open and encourage guests to use it frequently.
COVID-19 has been found to last on some surfaces for up to 72 hours, so using hand sanitiser will not only help to keep guests safe from catching the virus themselves but also helps in stopping the spread of the virus.
You may have to have contractors come to your premises from time to time, and they will need to be kept separate from your guests.
If you have implemented a system to stagger the arrival times of guests, you should also include the arrival of contractors to ensure that they aren’t arriving and congregating with guests.
Instead of guests contacting staff at a reception or face to face, encourage them to use alternative methods that don’t require them to be around people.
Providing a phone number, email address or instant messaging address can help your guests get in touch without having to come into close contact with someone, which will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
One of the surfaces that COVID-19 has been found to linger on is cash, so taking other forms of payment can help to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Contactless card payments are the most preferred choice when paying for small items that you may sell, but you could also consider taking a bank transfer when taking larger payments. Just remember to keep a record so that it can be put through your finances properly.
Serving food and drink
If the government guidance states that you can serve food, do so in the following ways:
- Maintain and encourage social distancing where you are serving food.
- Use disposable knives, forks and spoons.
- Provide condiments in disposable packaging so that they aren’t handled by multiple people.
- Encourage contactless payment.
- Ensure there is suitable ventilation for indoor areas.
- Let guests book in advance to avoid gatherings at entrances
- Avoid crowding around bars by offering table service
- Ask customers to order food over the phone or via email.
Track and Trace
Go to the NHS COVID-19 website to see if you need to register your venue.
If you need to register with NHS Track and Trace, it is a reasonably simple process, and you will be able to download a QR code so that your customers can record their visit on their phones
To ensure that facilities are safe for guests, consider some of the following guidelines for both staff and guests.
Encourage staff to maintain social distancing when carrying out housekeeping duties. They should not enter the room whilst a guest is in there, especially if they are self-isolating.
Any surfaces that will be regularly touched, such as door handles, cupboard doors, desk drawers or lamps and light switches should be thoroughly cleaned.
Consider removing any items that are non-essential, such as kettles, to avoid unnecessary contact.
Remove and clean all glasses and crockery between guests for thorough cleaning.
Review cleaning cycles and in-room services to ensure that the towels and bedding that you provide is safe to handle by your cleaning staff.
Always follow the latest government guidance on how businesses in the hospitality industry, or food serving business, can operate.
You should use designated bins to collect staff towels and overalls at the end of every shift for washing.
All employees should wash their hands thoroughly before handling any cutlery or plates to ensure that any virus particles that could be on their hands are washed off. Handwashing should also be a frequent practice, including the use of hand sanitiser.
Consider any further cleaning measures that you might need to do.
Hospitality insurance with Premierline
As we have outlined, the hotel sector is full of risks that you can hope to mitigate, but accidents can happen at any time, which is why comprehensive insurance is so important.
At Premierline, we are specialists in arranging comprehensive hotel insurance , bed & breakfast insurance and caravan park insurance policies. Our insurance specialists will assess your business’ needs to find the insurance cover that offers the best protection for your business. Get in touch to speak to one of our insurance professionals.
Source: Zywave Inc. – Risk Insights: COVID-19 Guidance for Hotels and Accommodation
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