Coronavirus: Hotel association releases strict cleaning guidelines amid pandemic

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Hotels across America are doubling down amid the coronavirus pandemic with proactive policies promoting hygiene and sanitization across their facilities to protect guests and employees.

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Industry trade group American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released its new “Safe Stay” guidelines on Monday, aiming to elevate the standards of the hotel business’ best cleaning practices and operational protocols in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, USA Today reports.

The new recommendations follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and were issued in partnership with major chains, including Hilton, Walt Disney, Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Best Western and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

The new recommendations follow guidance from the CDC.

The new recommendations follow guidance from the CDC. (iStock)

“This initiative represents a new level of focus and transparency for an industry already built on cleanliness. Hotels have always had rigorous standards for cleaning and safety,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said of the news. “With Safe Stay, we are enhancing these standards to boost consumer confidence and doing so in accordance with guidance issued by public health authorities, including the CDC.”

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The AHLA’s latest update is comprised of a four-part approach focusing on employee and guest health, as well as employee responsibility, cleaning protocols and physical distancing.

To protect the health of guests and employees, frequent hand washing is encouraged for all, and hand sanitizer dispensers (containing sanitizers with no less than 60 percent alcohol content) should be made available in high foot-traffic areas like lobby, reception, employee entrances and other communal spaces. Signage should be posted for guests to highlight when face mask usage is recommended (per the CDC) and in employees-only areas, to remind workers of how to wear and dispose of personal protective equipment (PPE), along with reminders for good respiratory hygiene tips.

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During and beyond the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus, employees must follow CDC guidelines for frequent hand washing, the AHLA recommends. Per CDC guidance, staffers should also receive COVID-10 safety and facility sanitation training if they have frequent contact with guests through roles in housekeeping, dining, security, valet service or maintenance, among others. In accordance with federal and local government regulations, employees should also wear PPE should while on duty, if appropriate. Further training on the use and disposal of PPE should be provided as requested.

High-traffic areas for guests should be “clearly marked” to better promote physical distancing of at least 6 feet, with lobby areas and other public seating areas reconfigured if necessary.

High-traffic areas for guests should be “clearly marked” to better promote physical distancing of at least 6 feet, with lobby areas and other public seating areas reconfigured if necessary. (iStock)

As for increased cleaning protocols and procedures, EPA-approved disinfectant products should be used to sanitize high-touch areas and items in lobbies, elevators, public bathrooms, door handles, stair railings, gym equipment, dining surfaces and seating areas "multiple times per day.”

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In guests' rooms, high-touch items like remote controls, telephones, door and furniture handles, light switches, nightstands, toilet seats and handles, water faucet handles, temperature controls, flooring and more should be frequently wiped down. The protocols also outline increased sanitization efforts for laundry, hotel guest elevators, and shared employee equipment.

For food and beverage, all in-person contact with guests and buffet service should be reduced, with traditional room service replaced with no-contact delivery. If a traditional buffet is served, the serving attendant should wear PPE, and communal serving utensils should be sanitized more frequently. Furthermore, the distribution of prepackaged foods and “grab and go” service is encouraged.

Finally, high-traffic areas for guests should be “clearly marked” to better promote physical distancing of at least six feet, with lobby areas and other public seating areas reconfigured if necessary. Notably, in guest rooms, housekeeping personnel should not enter unless specifically approved or requested by the guest, though rooms will be thoroughly cleaned after check-out. The use of technology is also encouraged for front desk agents, concierge and parking services to reduce direct contact with guests.

More specific information on the AHLA’s new Safe Stay suggestions is available on their website.

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The AHLA supports 27,000 lodging property members, representing more than 3.2 million hotel rooms across the U.S. among dozens of hotel brands, the organization said.