Maintenance and Social Distancing Adaptations In Tourism
Hotels have long been preparing for a safe reopening for their guests. How have hotel staff maintained these vast properties?
With the news that hotels are allowed to reopen from July 4th, guests will be wondering how their visit might look and whether or not it is safe following lockdown. Although the government announcement may be welcome relief to the UK tourist industry, the reality is that a hotel stay might seem incredibly different to those looking for a short getaway in 2020. With pools, gyms and spa facilities off limits at this time, and guests to be encouraged to use room service instead of hotel restaurants or bar areas, it will certainly be a different experience to usual. Nevertheless, hotel owners and management will be working tirelessly to open their venues in a way that is safe and compliant with Covid-19 regulations.
Many hotels that have temporarily closed throughout the UK, have relied on live-in maintenance staff to keep them safe and ready to return to the market. For Durham’s Royal County hotel, this has meant that eight staff have remained to keep the building ticking over during lockdown. With 150 bedrooms, it’s a sizeable and historic property, which would usually be filled with guests and have 650 staff to manage it.
Risk of Standing Water
Instead, the skeleton crew of eight have been tasked with turning on the hotel’s 600 taps once a week in order to release the build-up of standing water. They also flush 170 toilets twice a week, sanitise the shower heads and clean the ice machines. Usually guests would be taking showers, flushing the toilet or brushing their teeth around the clock. But without this hive of activity, there is a real threat to the water systems. Standing water can represent a threat to health due to the legionella bacteria that can thrive in these conditions. Hotels should all commit to legionella testing before reopening to safeguard the health of guests and occupants and prevent them from contracting Legionnaire’s disease.
During the lockdown, rooms will need to have been aired to prevent the possibility of black mould developing. For the Royal County hotel, this has meant keeping every drawer in the room open, and leaving the blackout curtains closed. Rooms have been kept at an ambient 16 degrees Celsius.
Social Distancing Measures
Preparing furloughed staff for social distancing changes will be next on the list for hotels planning to reopen on the 4th July. Staff contact should be kept at a minimum and some hotels will develop inhouse apps to allow communication between staff and guests. Tips should be added to the bill and contactless or prepayment charging methods should be used. Porters should remind anyone entering the building of the need to social distance, and markers will be placed on the floor to assist with this, whilst screens should go up in the reception area. Guests should wear masks in communal areas to minimise their risk to each other, whilst all keys or key cards should be cleaned between guests.
With the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 in the autumn, hotels and guests will adapt to this ‘new normal’ in tourism and allow us all to take that much-needed holiday in 2020.