After a spike in COVID-19 cases and months of lockdown, things are slowly going back to normal. The ‘new normal’ as we come to know it still involves safety and preventive measures for everyone to follow to reduce any further risk.
The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the surge of the pandemic. Hotels and restaurants around the UK have slowly reopened with strict safety guidelines in place. Many have hired interior fit out contractors to ensure they’re safe for the public to enter back.
In some places, face masks for staff and protective sneeze guards and panels have been integrated to protect both customers and employees.
We look at the different measures that hotels have taken to ensure the safety of their guests and employees.
The advancement of technology proved its worth during the pandemic by keeping the world connected even when there was a physical separation. Hotels are also making use of advanced technology to provide safety to its customers and employees.
Contactless technology has grown in demand, increasing the minimum limited spend and with many places even refusing cash. Technology has also facilitated safety procedures and the timely communication of health guidelines.
Hotels are also using online and digital communication platforms to minimise contact with their guests, such as adapting booking systems to spread out guest arrivals and limit the number of people in the hotel at one time. In addition, temperature scans of employees and guests are taken on arrival.
Other common practices adopted by almost all the hotels across the UK include:
Hotels have recognised the importance of communicating with staff to make sure they all understand the COVID-19 safety measures and their responsibilities. Clear, consistent and regular communication has helped workers engage with procedures as well as training materials for work prior to returning and whilst at work.
This in turn, helps staff to clearly communicate with customers on new measures such as booking through contactless online systems on mobiles and directing them to dedicated disinfecting wipe stations at entrances or lobbies.
Hotels in some high-risk areas or where it’s difficult to socially distance (such as in corridors) instruct their employees to wear Personal Protective Equipment, including surgical face masks and gloves. Some hotels are using custom sneeze guards for restaurants or at hotel receptions to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.
Cleaning And Disinfection Routine
Hotels have been using hospital-grade sanitisers and disinfectants to add to their new cleaning programmes to reassure guests. Frequently-touched surfaces like door handles, stair rails, elevators, buffet tables, furniture in common spaces, are cleaned more regularly. Some hotels are using UV technologies to disinfect surfaces in rooms, gyms, dining areas, etc.
Hand sanitisers are placed around the hotels, in bars, lounges, restaurants, bedrooms, guest rooms, spa areas, restrooms, elevators, etc. Guest rooms are kept unoccupied for at least 2 days before new guests move in. During this time, the rooms are given a deep clean, disinfected and renewed with new items of essential use. Hotels are also removing unnecessary and decorative items and furniture from their guest rooms, so there are fewer surfaces to disinfect.
Advanced Hygiene And Preventive Measures
In order to comply with government guidance, some hotels have also been providing temperature checks on arrival, as well as asking health-related questions. Records and contact details are also kept for everyone entering the hotel as part of the Track, Trace and Protect government scheme.
In addition to this, extra items in the rooms such as pens and paper and coat hangers etc. to reduce any ‘touch point’. Additional cancellation policies have also been introduced as travel restrictions change regularly across the world.
The room key cards, directories, menus, are sanitised and disinfected after each use, if they are unable to be provided digitally via mobile apps.
Some hotels have invested in new technologies such as electrostatic spraying technology to disinfect commonly touched surfaces too, which minimise the risk even further.
Many hotels are also encouraging the use of outdoor common areas like patios, restaurants on the terrace, and outdoor pools rather than using the indoor services. In some cases, sneeze guards or panels are introduced to protect hotel customers and staff when dining.
Social Distancing Practices
Hotels are trying to implement social distancing guidelines as much as it is possible. For that, they’ve introduced digital menus, grab-and-go, and pre-plated meal options. Many have introduced designated times and spots for each facility to space out the number of people in any one area.
Restaurants have set a limit on its capacity to ensure the 2 meters distance between people. Bigger hotels may want to create individual cubicles in their dining and lounge areas, like those in The Rise Makati’s workshop area, to further social distancing and safety. Digital screens have also been installed at different locations that display the necessary information and guidelines.
Different Accommodation Types
Private rooms in all indoor accommodation with en suite showering facilities have reopened, and shared toilet facilities or washrooms have also been opened. But restrictions are imposed on those using shared toilet and shower facilities. Hostels with dormitory rooms are closed, unless they are from the same household or support bubble.
There will be many hotels that are larger than others, with different abilities to maintain social distancing. That’s where clear front desk dividers and sneeze guards have been implemented, to further protect employees and customers. Divider panels are often provided too in reception areas, to protect those sitting from those walking through the area. These are also being carefully disinfected on a regular basis.
The hospitality industry is slowly reopening across the UK through the implementation of health and safety guidelines from the government. As they slowly ease into the new normal, creative solutions and expert advice has helped many hotels to reopen. We don’t know where we’ll be as we move towards the Christmas period. But we hope these examples can help you to work towards a safer reopening.
Bryony Shaw is the marketing executive at Spectrum Interior, a leading interior design company offering office refurbishment service, washroom fit-out and changing room benches in the UK. Her aim in life is to transform as many interior environments as possible into highly beautiful and functional spaces and make all incumbent dysfunctional eyesores a thing of the past. Synchronising the marketing, sales, purchasing and project management teams, she likes to listen to the needs concerning absolutely anything interior.