Coronavirus and Reopening: Restaurants, Bars and Hotels Guidelines, 11th May 2020 – In this article I have put together a collection of guidelines to help restaurants, bars and hotels find an answer to the most common questions about reopening their premises post COVID-19.

If you are a takeaway brand, make sure you also check our guide Takeaways and Coronavirus: a Guide for Customers and Operators.

Disclaimer: the following article is aimed at filling a temporary gap in guidance and guidelines for restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, hotels and B&Bs. Please make sure you always follow the latest advice from your local health authority.

Contents hide

Coronavirus and Reopening: Restaurants, Bars and Hotels Guidelines

Are Restaurants Open in Ireland?

At the time of writing (May 6th), restaurants in Ireland can only operate as a takeaway for collection and delivery only.

When Will Restaurants Reopen in Ireland?

According to the government guidelines issued on May 3rd under the title ‘Roadmap for reopening society and business’, restaurants and cafes can go back to ‘providing on-premises food and beverages’ in Phase 3 starting June 29th 2020.

This provided ‘they can comply with social distancing measures and strict cleaning in operation’ (source: gov.ie).

Are Bars Open in Ireland?

At the time of writing (May 6th), bars and pubs in Ireland can only operate as a takeaway for collection and delivery only.

When Will Bars Reopen in Ireland?

According to the government guidelines issued on May 3rd under the title ‘Roadmap for reopening society and business’, pubs, ‘bars, nightclubs,
casinos’ can reopen in Phase 5 starting August 10th 2020*.

This provided ‘social distancing and strict cleaning can be complied with’ (source: gov.ie).

*Note from the author: at the time of writing a proposal from The Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) and the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) asking for pubs to be treated same as restaurants and reopen in Phase 3 (June 29th).

Are Hotels Open in Ireland?

At the time of writing (May 6th), hotels in Ireland are closed.

When Will Hotels Reopen in Ireland?

According to the government guidelines issued on May 3rd under the title ‘Roadmap for reopening society and business’, ‘hotels, hostels, caravan parks, holiday parks’ can reopen in Phase 4 starting July 20th 2020.

They can reopen ‘initially on a limited occupancy basis (or number of people per square metre) and then increasing over time (and where social distancing is complied with)’ (source: gov.ie).

Coronavirus and Reopening: General Questions

While waiting for more detailed guidelines from the HSE and the RAI, the two keywords that stand out for the reopening of restaurants, bars and hotels are ‘social distancing’ and ‘strict cleaning’.

Although not mentioned in official documents by either HSE, HPSC or the European Council, ‘contactless payment’ seems the preferred way of handling transactions.

The assumption is it will continue to be the case, at least in the early stages of the reopening.

What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing (or physical distancing) is about keeping a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people. It’s also recommended not shake hands or make close contact if possible.

What is Strict Cleaning?

Based on the research done, there is no agreed definition of ‘strict cleaning’.

The assumption is that ‘strict cleaning’ refers to a number of best practises that go beyond the standard cleaning procedures already in place pre-Coronavirus in restaurants, bars and hotels.

Another fair assumption is that ‘strict cleaning’ is about using cleaning products that are considered and officially recognised as effective against SARS-CoV-2.

What is Contactless Payment?

Contactless Payment is a form of payment where you can buy products or services by using your credit card, debit card or smartphone.

You pay by swapping your card or device onto a second device, which is used to process the payment.

It’s particularly recommended as preferred form of payment during the Coronavirus outbreak because it doesn’t involve the touching of any surface or sharing of an object lime banknotes or change.

Can Customers Catch COVID-19 by Touching a Surface?

Yes, you can catch Coronavirus by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

How Long Does COVID-19 Last on Surfaces?

This is what the WHO writes about how long the Coronavirus lasts on surfaces:

There is currently no data available on stability of 2019-nCoV on surfaces. Data from laboratory studies on SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have shown that stability in the environment depends on several factors including relative temperature, humidity, and surface type. WHO continues to monitor existing evidence around nCoV and will update when such evidence is available.

Having said that, some early research shows how long COVID-19 can last on some common surfaces (source: clevelandclinic.org):

  • Glass – 5 days.
  • Wood – 4 days.
  • Plastic & stainless-steel – 3 days.
  • Cardboard – 24 hours.
  • Copper surfaces – 4 hours.

Coronavirus and Reopening: Return to Work Safely Protocol

Reopening Guidance and Customers

A Customer Might Have Coronavirus: Should I Send Him / Her Home?

Anyone with a temperature of 37.5 degrees celsius or above should not be accommodated and should consider seeking medical advice (source: blacksheeprestaurants.com).

A Customer Has Coronavirus: Should I Contact the Local Health Authority?

It’s generally recommended to report the customer to the local health authority.

It would also be good practice to create a Health Declaration form that all guests must sign before entering the restaurant. Make sure they leave contact details and keep these safe so that you are able to contact everyone who dined with you if you need to (e.g. if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the restaurant).

Reopening Guidance and Staff

What is a COVID-19 Response Plan?

A COVID-19 Response plan is a plan outlining all the steps a company is going to take to protect their employees and prevent a Coronavirus outbreak.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Updating your occupational health and safety risk assessments and safety statement
  • Carrying out a risk assessment analysis including workers’ individual risk factors (eg medical conditions, age, etc)
  • Developing and communicating how you are going to deal with a suspected case of COVID-19

How Can I Protect Staff Returning to Work from COVID-19?

Employers must set up a pre-return to work form to be completed by staff at least three days before returning to work.

The form should include the following questions. If a staff member answers yes to any of the questions, it’s strongly advised that he / she seeks medical advice before returning to work (source: gov.ie):

Do you have symptoms of cough, fever, high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, breathlessness or flu like symptoms now or in the past 14 days? Yes/No

Have you been diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days? Yes/No

Are you a close contact of a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days (i.e. less than 2m for more than 15 minutes accumulative in 1 day)? Yes/No

Have you been advised by a doctor to self-isolate at this time? Yes/No, o Have you been advised by a doctor to cocoon at this time? Yes/No

Should I Train My Staff about COVID-19 Response?

As staff returns to work, the employer needs to put in place and provide training for all workers, to include at a minimum:

  • what a worker should do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19

  • details of how the workplace is organised to address the risk from COVID-19

  • an outline of the COVID-19 response plan

  • identification of points of contact from the employer and the workers; and any other sector specific advice that is relevant

A Staff Member Might Have Coronavirus: Should I Send Him / Her Home?

An employer must put in place, in their COVID-19 response plan, an appointed team and manager to deal with suspected cases of Coronavirus.

The employer must identify an isolation area and corresponding route for suspected cases of Coronavirus.

If a staff member displays symptoms of Coronavirus, the appointed manager should direct and accompany him / her to the designated isolation area via the designated route, while keeping a 2m or 6.5 feet distance.

The suspected case should also be provided with a face mask.

The manager should assess whether the worker is in a condition to go home and should facilitate the transport to either home or a medical facility.

The general guidance is never to allow to come to work or stay in work any staff member who is sick and / or shows influenza-like symptoms.

The HSE website states ‘If you are well, but you have been in close contact with a case of coronavirus you will need to restrict your movements’, which means ‘Do not go to school, college or work’ (source: hse.ie).

In the US, the CDC recommends that ’employees who have symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home’.

Those staff members who show symptoms ‘upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other staff members, customers, and visitors and sent home’ (source: cdc.gov).

A Staff Member Might Have Coronavirus: Should I Close the Workplace?

At the time of writing none of the sources from this research, including HSE, NHS, CDC or other legal experts, clarifies when and in what circumstances is advisable to close the workplace.

A Staff Member Has Coronavirus: Should I Contact the Local Health Authority?

It’s generally recommended to report the staff member to the local health authority.

A Staff Member Has Coronavirus: How Should I Tell Other Employees?

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace, the advice is to inform the rest of the workforce without revealing the employee’s name.

Mini Setty from Langleys Solicitors recommends:

If a business does have a confirmed case of coronavirus, it should inform the rest of the workforce, however it must withhold the employees’ identity under UK data protection law.

Naturally, hiding the identity of the sick employee can be quite difficult, especially in an small business.

Can I Refuse Access to Work to a Staff member Because of COVID-19?

If you have legitimate reasons to believe that the health and safety of your staff is at risk, you can suspend a staff member from the workplace, ‘although the decision to suspend employees should not be discriminatory’ (source: reedsmith.com).

Can I Take a Staff Member’s Temperature?

The AHLA suggests that ‘well-being checks of all employees, including physical temperature checks where required by law, shall be carried out’ (source: ahla.com).

Some companies like Black Sheep Restaurants are already putting in place this best practice (source: blacksheeprestaurants.com):

Invest in contactless thermometers and enforce daily, mandatory temperature checks for the team upon arrival. Anyone with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, send home.

Can I Ask a Staff Member to Undergo a Medical Examination?

If there is a clause in the contract regulating this eventuality, ‘the employee cannot reasonably refuse to be medically examined’ (source: pinsentmasons.com).

If no such clause is present in the agreement, then the manager should seek a reasonable agreement with the staff member.

Washing Hands

How Should Staff Wash Their Hands?

Employees shall wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, or use sanitiser when a sink is not available.

When possible, employees shall wear gloves for added protection and sanitation efforts. Proper hand hygiene, in accordance with the latest guidelines by the local health authority, should be followed prior to and after removing the gloves (source: ahla.com).

The FSAI recommends the following as the proper hand-washing technique:

  • wet hands under warm running water
  • use enough soap to form a good lather
  • rub all parts of hands with soap and water
  • lather for at least 20 seconds, vigorously and thoroughly rubbing all hand surfaces, including the fingertips and thumbs
  • rinse hands thoroughly with running water
  • dry hands thoroughly, using disposable paper towels, if possible
Coronavirus and Reopening - washing hands

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How Often Should Staff Wash Their Hands?

The proposed recommendation included in the document by the LVA and VFI is for staff to wash their hands every 30 minutes (source: rte.ie).

Employees should be required to frequently wash hands with soap and water or hand-sanitiser. Hand-sanitisers should be touchless, where possible.

Employee should be required to wash their hands after any of the following activities: using the restroom, sneezing, touching the face, cleaning, smoking, eating, drinking, accepting items from a guest (ID, cash, credit card, key card), taking a break, and before a shift and as needed throughout the shift (source: ahla.com).

The Food Safety Authority (FSAI) of Ireland recommends that food workers must wash hands (fsai.ie):

  • before starting work

  • after coughing, sneezing or blowing nose

  • before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food

  • after handling or preparing raw food

  • after handling waste

  • after cleaning duties

  • after using the toilet

  • after eating, drinking or smoking

  • after handling money

  • generally, on a regular basis

Physical Distancing

How Can I Ensure Physical Distancing in the Workplace

Physical distancing is recommended to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing is considered a distance of 2m or 6.5 feet between two persons.

Among the measures the government recommends for ensuring physical distancing in the workplace:

  • No hand-shaking
  • Organising workers in teams with a similar schedule
  • Rearranging break facilities
  • Considering closing the canteen if physical distancing cannot be ensured
  • Implementing a queue management system

If physical distancing cannot be ensured, the following alternative protective measures should be put in place:

  • Installing physical barriers like sneeze guards
  • Maintaining a minimum distance of 1m

Personal Protective Equipment

Should Staff Members Wear Masks?

The HSE has not made wearing a mask as mandatory with the exception of healthcare settings.

Having said that, a number of countries across the world have made Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks mandatory.

It’s fair to assume customers would feel safer with staff wearing masks.

Should Staff Members Wear Gloves?

Staff, including food workers, are not required to wear gloves provided they follow proper hand-washing and sanitising.

If they wear gloves, these need to be changed frequently, while hands need to be washed before wearing and after removing gloves.

This is what the FSAI adds on the matter:

Food workers should be aware that wearing gloves can allow bacteria to build up on the surface of the hands, so hand washing is extremely important when gloves are removed to avoid subsequent contamination of food.

It is important to wash your hands even when wearing gloves, as contaminated gloves can spread germs to your hands when removing the gloves.

Customer Facing Roles

In workplaces where staff has direct contact with customers or visitors, employers must (source: gov.ie):

  • Eliminate physical interaction between workers and customers as much as is reasonably practicable through revised working arrangements. For example through provision of online or phone orders, contactless delivery or managed entry
  • Provide hand sanitisers at entry/exit points
  • Install physical barriers and clear markings to ensure that contact between workers and customers is kept to a minimum and to ensure that queues do not form between customers as they wait to be served
  • Implement a cleaning regime to ensure that contact points for workers and customers are kept visibly cleaned at all times
  • Display the advice on the COVID-19 measures in visible locations to ensure that customers are also adhering to what is required

Coronavirus and Reopening: Guidelines for Restaurants

The following is a selection of best practices mostly based on the recent document by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and signed by some of the main hotel chains like ‘Hilton, Walt Disney, Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Best Western and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts’ (source: foxnews.com).

What Are the Guidelines for Reopening Restaurants in Ireland?

At the time of writing (May 7th), the only official reopening guidance given to restaurants and cafes looking to reopen their premises to seated customers are about ‘social distancing and strict cleaning’ (source: gov.ie).

The document released by the government of Ireland quotes ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures’ document by the European Council.

In this document there is a reference to ‘Social activity measures (restaurants, cafes, etc.), with possible gradation (restricted opening hours, maximum number of people allowed, etc.)’ (source: europa.eu).

On May 9th the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation released a document called ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’.

While the document is not specifically meant for restaurant and cafes, it does include a number of protocols which apply to customer-facing businesses operating in the food and beverage industry.

Coronavirus and Reopening - restaurant

Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

General Questions about Food and COVID-19

Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted through Food?

This is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) writes about the topic (source: who.int):

Current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.

We already reported this answer in the article Coronavirus FAQs for Restaurants, Cafes and Takeaways and Takeaways and Coronavirus: a Guide for Customers and Operators:

Experience with SARS and MERS suggest that people are not infected with the virus through food. So, it is unlikely the virus is passed on through food and there is no evidence yet of this happening with COVID-19 (coronavirus) to date.

Coronaviruses need a host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food. Thorough cooking is expected to kill the virus because we know that a heat treatment of at least 30min at 60ºC is effective with SARS (source: fsai.ie).

Can Customers Catch Coronavirus from Touching Food?

The risk of transfer of the virus from food is very low, based on current research (source: ces.ncsu.edu).

What Happens If a Customer Ingests COVID-19 through Food?

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 directly by eating food that might have inadvertently contained the virus (source: ces.ncsu.edu).

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. It might be possible for a person to get Coronavirus by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose but this is not thought to be the main way for transmission of the virus.

If a Customer or Staff Member Catches COVID-19, is the Food still Safe to Eat?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.

Signage

Front of the House

For as long as the usage of face masks is recommended by the HSE (or any other health authority for the concerning country), you should put a sign with health and hygiene reminders at high-traffic areas in the restaurant, ‘indicating the proper way to wear, handle and dispose of masks’ (source: ahla.com).

Back of the House

A similar signage should be posted in the employee break room and cafeteria, and other areas employees frequently enter or exit. ‘Signage will remind employees of the proper way to wear, handle and dispose masks, use gloves, wash hands, sneeze and to avoid touching their faces’ (source: ahla.com).

Restaurant Areas and Tables

High-touch surfaces such as tables, condiments, menus, self-serve areas like buffet and salad bars, restrooms, etc. are the most sensitive areas to Coronavirus. It is critical to ensure and put in place good standard operating procedures for strict cleaning and sanitising (source: foodsafetyfocus.com).

Buffet and Salad Bar Areas

The document produced by the AHLA, which I have already mentioned in this article, gives the following guidelines in relation to buffet areas:

Traditional buffet service shall be limited, but when offered, it should be served by an attendant wearing personal protection equipment (PPE), and utensils should be washed and changed more frequently. Portion controls should be emphasised to reduce food exposed for long periods. Sneeze and cough screens shall be present at all food displays.

The NRA in the already-quoted document writes about buffet areas:

Where salad bars and buffets are permitted by local/ state officials, they must have sneeze guards in place. Change, wash and sanitise utensils frequently and place appropriate barriers in open areas. Alternatively, cafeteria style (worker served) is permissible with appropriate barriers in place.

If the above is not feasible, you should consider eliminating buffet.

Restaurant Entrance and Concierge

Social distancing rules apply to all areas within the restaurant. The restaurant management should look into measures to avoid people queuing inside or outside of the premises.

Such measures include operating at lower capacity and not accepting walk-ins.

In case this is not possible, social distancing must be ensured with people standing at least 2 metres or 6.5 feet away from other groups of people, including any area where guests or employees queue.

Such areas shall be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing, and where possible, encourage one-way guest flow with marked entrances and exits (source: ahla.com).

Tables
How Should I Organise Tables?

You need to make sure social distancing is in place in between tables. This means updating floor plans for common dining areas and redesigning seating arrangements to ensure at least 2 metres or 6.5 feet of separation between table setups.

Some restaurants across the globe are setting every other table, which according to some it will be the ‘new normal’ (source: blacksheeprestaurants.com).

For example, the state of Georgia, USA applies the following limitations:

No more than ten patrons should be allowed in facility per five-hundred square feet of public space. Calculating public space includes waiting and bar areas, but not hallways, restrooms, and spaces closed to patrons.

You might also want to consider limiting the number of people per table to a maximum approved by your local health authority.

The LVA and VFI propose a maximum of 6 people per table.

Where applicable (eg booth seating), you can also think about implementing some physical barriers.

Consider a reservations-only business model or call-ahead seating to better space diners (source: restaurant.org).

How Should I Clean Tables?

‘Remove paper table covers and any waste and double bag, store for 72 hours in a safe location prior to removal from the hotel site. Clean and disinfect all hard surfaces such as tables and any surfaces that may have been touched by diners’ (source: hpsc.ie).

How Often Should I Clean Tables?

Best practice is to clean and sanitise table condiments, digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops, and common touch areas between seatings.

Single-use items should be discarded. Consider using rolled silverware and eliminating table presets (source: restaurant.org).

How Often Should I Change the Wet Cloth Used to Wipe Down Tables?

The general guidelines are about changing the ‘cloths as often as the water gets dirty’ (source: foodsafetyfocus.com).

However, the most critical thing here is to make sure you use wet cloths with sanitiser rather than water. Wet cloths without sanitiser will just spread the virus around tables and menus!

How Should I Clean Menus?

Clean and sanitise reusable menus. If you use paper menus, discard them after each customer use (source: restaurant.org).

Restrooms

The general recommendation is to ‘check restrooms regularly and clean and sanitise them based on frequency of use’ (source: restaurant.org).

Payments

Should the Restaurant Accept Cash?

At the time of writing (May 6th) there are no guidelines about restaurants not accepting cash payments.

Having said that, it might be reasonable to assume that at least initially the majority of restaurants and cafes should accept contactless payments only.

Coronavirus and Reopening: Guidelines for Bars

What Are the Guidelines for Reopening Bars?

At the time of writing (May 7th), the only official reopening guidance given to pubs, ‘bars, nightclubs, casinos’ looking to reopen their premises to seated customers are about ‘social distancing and strict cleaning’ (source: gov.ie).

The document released by the government of Ireland quotes ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures’ document by the European Council.

In this document there is a reference to ‘Social activity measures (restaurants, cafes, etc.), with possible gradation (restricted opening hours, maximum number of people allowed, etc.)’ (source: europa.eu).

On May 9th the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation released a document called ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’.

While the document is not specifically meant for bars and pubs, it does include a number of protocols which apply to customer-facing businesses operating in the food and beverage industry.

General Questions about Food, Drinks and COVID-19

Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted through Food?

This is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) writes about the topic (source: who.int):

Current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.

We already reported this answer in the article Coronavirus FAQs for Restaurants, Cafes and Takeaways and Takeaways and Coronavirus: a Guide for Customers and Operators:

Experience with SARS and MERS suggest that people are not infected with the virus through food. So, it is unlikely the virus is passed on through food and there is no evidence yet of this happening with COVID-19 (coronavirus) to date.

Coronaviruses need a host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food. Thorough cooking is expected to kill the virus because we know that a heat treatment of at least 30min at 60ºC is effective with SARS (source: fsai.ie).

Can Customers Catch Coronavirus from Touching Food?

The risk of transfer of the virus from food is very low, based on current research (source: ces.ncsu.edu).

What Happens If a Customer Ingests COVID-19 through Food?

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 directly by eating food that might have inadvertently contained the virus (source: ces.ncsu.edu).

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. It might be possible for a person to get Coronavirus by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose but this is not thought to be the main way for transmission of the virus.

If a Customer or Staff Member Catches COVID-19, is the Food still Safe to Eat?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.

Can a Customer Catch Coronavirus from a Glass?

Yes, if the customer touches an infected object like a glass and then touches his mouth, eyes or nose, or drinks from the glass.

Coronavirus and Reopening - pint of beer

Photo by mnm.all on Unsplash

Signage

Front of the House

For as long as the usage of face masks is recommended by the HSE (or any other health authority for the concerning country), you should put a sign with health and hygiene reminders at high-traffic areas in the bar, ‘indicating the proper way to wear, handle and dispose of masks’ (source: ahla.com).

Back of the House

A similar signage should be posted in the employee break room and common areas, and other areas employees frequently enter or exit. ‘Signage will remind employees of the proper way to wear, handle and dispose masks, use gloves, wash hands, sneeze and to avoid touching their faces’ (source: ahla.com).

Bar Entrance and Concierge

Social distancing rules apply to all areas within the bar. The bar management should look into measures to avoid people queuing inside or outside of the premises.

Such measures include operating at lower capacity and not accepting walk-ins.

In case this is not possible, social distancing must be ensured with people standing at least 2 metres or 6.5 feet away from other groups of people, including any area where guests or employees queue.

Such areas shall be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing, and where possible, encourage one-way guest flow with marked entrances and exits (source: ahla.com).

Payments

Should the Bar Accept Cash?

At the time of writing (May 6th) there are no guidelines about bars not accepting cash payments.

Having said that, it might be reasonable to assume that at least initially the majority of bars and pubs should accept contactless payments only.

Coronavirus and Reopening: Guidelines for Hotels

What Are the Guidelines for Reopening Hotels in Ireland?

At the time of writing (May 7th), the only official reopening guidance given to ‘hotels, hostels, caravan parks, holiday parks’ looking to reopen their premises to seated customers are about reopening ‘initially on a limited occupancy basis (or number of people per square metre) and then increasing over time (and where social distancing is complied with)’ (source: gov.ie).

On May 9th the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation released a document called ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’.

While the document is not specifically meant for hotels and hostels, it does include a number of protocols which apply to customer-facing businesses operating in the hospitality industry.

Coronavirus and Reopening - hotel sign at night

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Signage

Front of the House

For as long as the usage of face masks is recommended by the HSE (or any other health authority for the concerning country), you should put a sign with health and hygiene reminders at high-traffic areas in the hotel, ‘indicating the proper way to wear, handle and dispose of masks’ (source: ahla.com).

Back of the House

A similar signage should be posted in the employee break room and cafeteria, and other areas employees frequently enter or exit. ‘Signage will remind employees of the proper way to wear, handle and dispose masks, use gloves, wash hands, sneeze and to avoid touching their faces’ (source: ahla.com).

Communal Areas and Lobby

Social distancing rules apply to all areas within the hotel. The hotel management should look into measures to avoid people queuing inside or outside of the premises.

Such measures include operating at lower capacity and not accepting walk-ins.

In case this is not possible, social distancing must be ensured with people standing at least 2 metres or 6.5 feet away from other groups of people, including any area where guests or employees queue.

Such areas shall be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing, and where possible, encourage one-way guest flow with marked entrances and exits.

When applicable, lobby furniture and other public seating areas will be reconfigured to promote social distancing (source: ahla.com).

Cleaning and disinfecting of these and other communal areas shall be frequent (multiple times per day) with an emphasis on frequent contact with hard non-porous surfaces including, but not limited to, front desk check-in counters, bell desks, elevators and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, vending machines, ice machines, room keys and locks, ATMs, escalator and stair handrails, gym equipment, pool seating and surrounding areas, dining surfaces and all seating areas (source: ahla.com).

Entrance

One measure that seems to be already in place or that is going to be implemented on reopening is the temperature check at the entrance.

Currently this is the case for The Venetian in Las Vegas and the Four Seasons in New York, while Singapore has rolled out this as a policy for a number of businesses including hotels.

Front Desk and Concierge

According to AHLA guidelines (source: ahla.com):

Front desk agents shall practice social distancing including utilising every other workstation to ensure social distancing between employees whenever applicable and possible. The use of technology to reduce direct contact with guests, lobby population and front desk queue is encouraged, where feasible. In addition, contactless payment processes are encouraged, and when not available, employees should minimize contact as much as possible.

Elevator

Button panels shall be disinfected at regular intervals, including the beginning of each housekeeping staff work shift and continuing throughout the day (source: ahla.com).

The Venetians in Las Vegas recommends no more than four guests in an elevator, while the Hamilton Hotel in Washington reduces the number to two (source: cnn.com).

Hotel Rooms

How Should Hotel Rooms Be Cleaned?

During the Stay

Ideally, housekeeping should not enter a guest room during a stay unless specifically requested, or approved, by the guest, or to comply with established safety protocols (source: ahla.com).

After Check Out

If possible keep a room closed off and secure for 72 hours. After this time the amount of virus contamination will have decreased substantially and you can clean as normal with your usual products.

AirBnB is going to roll out a process that includes a ’72-hour wait between stays’ (source: skift.com).

If this is not feasible, allow a period of 24 hours before commencing room cleaning. Keep the room locked in the interim (source: hpsc.ie):

Waste, towels and bed linen not already bagged such be bagged and removed.
Leftover toiletries should be bagged and removed.
Left behind personal property should be bagged and dealt with as per hotel policy.
Pillow and duvets should be commercially laundered.
Curtains and nets should be changed if possible and dry cleaned or laundered as per manufacturer’s instructions.
All surfaces that the occupant came into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:

  • Objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • Hard surfaces in the room to include wooden furniture and all hand contact area such as light and lamp switches, electric socket switches, telephone and remote controls, air conditioning control buttons, door and furniture handles and window handles. Other objects that require cleaning will include the kettle, kettle tray, iron and clothes hangers
  • Soft furnishings in as far as possible
  • All sanitary fittings and all hand contact areas in the ensuite bathroom Walls do not need to be washed. Hand contact areas around light switches should be wiped.

What Cleaning Products Should I Use for Hotel Rooms?

The keyword here is disposable. To clean hotel rooms 72 (preferred) or 24 hours after the guests have left the room, you want to use:

  • Disposable cloths for hard surfaces
  • Disposable mop heads for bathroom floors (or use mop heads that can be commercially laundered at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius)
  • Disposable damp disinfectant wipes for electric switches and electric appliances
  • Steam cleaner for soft furnishings like carpet and upholstered chairs
  • Disinfectant wipes for lampshades with either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine or a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 parts per million available chlorine)

Lists of disinfectants suitable for use are available online. Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning

‘Any disposable cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags. Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of’ (source: hspc.ie).

Coronavirus and Reopening - cleaning products

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Room Recovery Protocol

‘In the event of a presumptive case of COVID-19 the affected guest room shall be removed from service and quarantined. The guest room shall not be
returned to service until undergoing an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting utilising EPA approved products within HSE guidelines’ (source: ahla.com).

Laundry

How Should I Dispose of Hotel Room Laundry?

Follow the guidance by the HSPC on the matter (source: hspc.ie):

Bed Linen – Residents should be requested to place used bed linen in suitably sized plastic bags, which should be placed on the corridor outside their door for collection
Towels – Residents should be requested to place used towels in suitably sized plastic bags which should be placed on the corridor outside their door for collection.
Discharge – Following discharge of the residents from the facility, bedding including bed linen, pillows, duvets and towels should be bagged and removed from the room and laundered

Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air. Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with the usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.

Waste

How Should I Dispose of Hotel Room Waste?

Follow the guidance by the HSPC on the matter:

Waste from resident’s rooms and from public areas of the hotel:

  1. Should be put in a plastic waste bag and tied when full
  2. The waste bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied
  3. It should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage for 72 hours
  4. After 72 hours, waste can be sent to domestic landfill
  5. Waste should be stored safely and kept away from children.

Coronavirus and Reopening: Sources

Coronavirus and Reopening: References

https://assets.gov.ie/73722/ffd17d70fbb64b498fd809dde548f411.pdf
https://www.rte.ie/news/2020/0504/1136409-vintners/
https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication_-_a_european_roadmap_to_lifting_coronavirus_containment_measures_0.pdf
https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/coronavirus-pandemic-hotel-assocation-cleaning-guidelines
https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Takeout_COVID-19_Social-Media-Image_032020.png
https://foodsafetyfocus.com/FoodSafetyFocus/media/Library/pdfs/Coronavirus_2019-nCoV_Info_TipsforRestaurants.pdf
https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/infectionpreventionandcontrolguidance/Preliminary-IPC-Guidance-Self-Isolation-Faciliites-31-03-2020-MC-Agreed_v1.0.pdf
https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.pdf
https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/hotels-safety-coronavirus/index.html

Coronavirus and Reopening: Photos

https://unsplash.com/@kellysikkema
https://unsplash.com/@shawnanggg
https://unsplash.com/@mnm_all
https://unsplash.com/@martenbjork
https://unsplash.com/@zacharylink (featured image)

About Pasquale Mellone

Coronavirus and Reopening: Restaurants, Bars and Hotels Guidelines 1Founder and Head of Strategy at Increasily. He has +15 years of experience in digital marketing and has worked on multilingual projects for international brands and agencies. He currently holds a teaching role at the Digital Marketing Academy of Ireland.

0
Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *