When it comes to the reopening of hotels after the inactivity due to COVID-19, there is no room for improvisation. Thinking about what this “new normal” for the hotel will be, Infraspeak has prepared a checklist of measures to prevent the contamination of COVID-19 in your hotel.
As you can predict, much of the burden falls on the housekeeping team. Disinfection of rooms and common areas is the number one step in fighting the spread of the virus within a hotel. For everyone’s safety, your staff must protect the guests and protect themselves. And, as always, we’ve also included some extra maintenance care.
How to welcome guests infected with COVID-19
The virus will not go away, so there is a very real possibility that you will have to welcome infected guests, guests with suspected infection, or those who will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. This forces your team to take some special care, without ever compromising the comfort of the guest.
✓ In case you have a guest with suspected infection by COVID-19, you should isolate them in a room with a telephone, own bathroom, biological waste container, thermometer, water, food kit, and protective material while waiting for the arrival of health professionals. The room should have natural ventilation and no carpets, rugs, or curtains (which are difficult to disinfect).
✓ If you have guests who will need to be quarantined for traveling on a flight with COVID-19 carriers or for arriving from areas with community transmission of the virus, you should notify the room service team. Staff should change protective equipment in each potentially infected room.
✓ If you are expecting to have several guests in quarantine, ease these guests’ communication with the room service and housekeeping team through an intercom. Consider offering full board within 14 days of arrival and, if necessary, ensure that these guests do not have to leave the hotel to buy medication.
✓ All rooms with suspected infected guests must be equipped with an alarm system that the guest can activate in case of an emergency.
✓ You must use two garbage bags for the waste from these rooms.
Prepare the housekeeping team for disinfecting and eliminating the virus
The housekeeping team is the one most subject to danger. To avoid SARS-CoV-2 contamination, you will need to adopt new cleaning measures.
✓ Adapt the checklist of housekeeping tasks to be performed at each cleaning, especially after each check-out.
✓ Train the people who do the bedding and the rooms to wear personal protective equipment (mask, nitrile gloves, plastic apron, eye protection) as they are at greater risk.
✓ Plan new work routines and split the teams: one team removes the bedding and towels; then, with a span of 2-4 hours, it’s another team that changes it.
✓ The team that will be responsible for removing the clothes from the rooms should not “shake” the sheets, which should be rolled up to make a “wrapping”.
✓ Explain to the entire housekeeping team how to disinfect surfaces with bleach, chlorine or alcohol 70% and the respective concentrations of disinfectant. Alternatively, to avoid damaging sensitive materials (such as wood or resin shower trays), virucidal detergents can be used.
✓ The cleaning cloths must be for single-use; the bucket and mop to clean the bathroom must not be used in the bedrooms and vice-versa. Cleaning should be done from the (presumably) cleanest to the dirtiest area.
✓ Set an exclusive washing machine for use by the professionals responsible for cleaning the rooms. The clothes should be washed at least 60ºC for 30 minutes. If the fabric does not withstand this temperature, a second cycle with appropriate disinfectant should be done.
✓ Room cleaning should begin to include careful disinfection of all controls and switches – if possible, allow guests to control the TV and AC from their mobile phones.
✓ The walls, both in the rooms and in the common areas, should be cleaned to arm’s length.
✓ The common areas with the highest passages, such as reception, should be disinfected several times a day. ATM terminals should be disinfected with a wipe after each use – do not use pure alcohol on the terminal, as it may irreparably damage the TPA.
✓ The dishes must always be taken to the machine at least 60ºC.
✓ Don’t use the vacuum cleaner, because it turns the virus droplets into aerosols. The cleaning should always be damp or with water vacuum cleaners.
Learn more about how to organize your team after quarantine
Reduce employee-to-guest and guest-to-guest contamination
Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to prevent contamination since SARS-CoV-2 spreads when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. So be prepared to make some adjustments to the normal operation of the hotel and avoid contamination between guests or between guests and staff.
✓ Place dispensers of an antiseptic solution at all entry and exit points: main door, next to the reception; at the entrance of each floor, next to the elevators; and at the entrance of the dining rooms.
✓ Avoid queues at the reception – consider joining automatic check-in systems and kiosks to avoid queues.
✓ Room keys should be disinfected after each check-out or, if possible, replaced with digital keys.
✓ Define a maximum number of people who can stay at the same time in the common areas to comply with the rules of social distancing. If necessary, expand the area dedicated to the breakfast service to ensure everyone’s safety. If this is not possible, offer room service to guests with no place in the breakfast room, restaurant, or bar.
✓ Suspend spa services that are not compatible with social distancing, such as therapeutic massages and acupuncture.
✓ Whenever possible, guests should use their own sports equipment. If you usually rent sports equipment (e.g. rackets, bicycles, diving goggles, golf clubs), you should disinfect it after each use and wait a few hours before making it available to another guest.
Extra maintenance care
Ensuring ventilation of spaces, avoiding recirculation of air, and water is maintenance care that provides extra safety for your guests and staff.
✓ Ventilation must be connected 24/7: when in an indoor environment, a distance of 2 meters is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus.
✓ Maintenance personnel should know the best practices for operating HVAC systems during the epidemic and wear protective equipment (goggles and visors) whenever they replace filters.
✓ If the hotel is still partially closed, do not forget to use all water points (taps and showers) at least once a week to avoid the proliferation of microorganisms such as legionella. It is recommended to do tests on the pool water, Jacuzzi, and artificial fountains. Check here for more maintenance measures that are essential even in closed hotels.
✓ If a guest with COVID-19 has recently used the pool, it must be washed and disinfected (including the access stairs, jumping platforms, and duck nozzle jets). You may follow the usual procedures for chlorination.
✓ If a guest with COVID-19 has recently used the Jacuzzi, it is recommended to dump all the water, wash and disinfect. Refill with chlorinated water.