VDH Interim Guidance: Considerations for Lodging Establishments, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Revised April 25, 2020
The purpose of this document is to summarize key recommendations for operators of lodging establishments (hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts) regarding COVID-19 and Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 (effective March 24, 2020, 11:59 pm).
EO 53 orders the “closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets effective 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020. Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets may continue to offer delivery and take-out services.” Additionally, EO 53 also calls for the closure of “recreational and entertainment businesses.”
Lodging establishments should consider the recommended precautions from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding COVID-19. It is imperative for the safety and well-being of staff, guests, and the community that operators of lodging establishments strive to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and abide by the details of Executive Order 53 (and any EO to follow).
Food Service and Kitchenware:
- In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 53, all dining and congregating areas associated with food service establishments are to close as of 11:59pm on March 24, 2020. Restaurants may deliver room service or offer takeaway, and continental breakfasts may offer takeaway. Self-service of foods, including condiments, beverages, and where multiple guests may handle common utensils, is strongly discouraged. Staff should monitor areas closely to prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people and to encourage guests to maintain 6 feet or more between persons. Please remember, the Virginia Food Regulations still apply to hotels that operate under a VDH Food Establishment Permit.
- Staff should remove all reusable glassware from guest rooms for proper sanitization between guests or use single-service (disposable) items.
- VDH also recommends sanitizing ice buckets between guests and providing extra ice bucket liners to guests upon request.
Swimming Pools/Spas, Fitness Centers, and Personal Care Services:
- In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 53, all swimming pools and spas, fitness centers, other exercise facilities, and personal care services (including massage parlors and beauty salons) associated with a lodging establishment are to close.
- Lobbies and hallways will remain open to the public. However, staff should monitor these areas closely to prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people and to encourage guests to maintain 6 feet or more between persons.
- Staff can apply pieces of tape on the floor at intervals of 6 feet in areas where lines may form. Guests should be encouraged to stand in line where the tape is marked on the floor to help maintain adequate social distancing.
- Staff are encouraged to close other common areas (including meeting rooms, banquet halls, business centers, and self-service laundry). If staff are able to monitor usage closely to ensure compliance with the ban on gatherings of 10 or more people, these common areas can remain available upon request, however VDH recommends disinfecting equipment and furnishings between users.
- The external components of ice machines in common areas should be cleaned and disinfected throughout each day. If disinfection is not possible, management should turn off these common area ice machines and provide ice to guests upon request.
Cleaning and Disinfecting:
- Between guests, staff should increase routine cleaning and disinfection procedures with emphasis on frequently touched surfaces (such as door handles, counters, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet levers, remote controls, telephones, miscellaneous knobs and handles, etc.). The CDC’s website contains detailed information on how to clean and disinfect surfaces here. Staff can also find a list of EPA-registered disinfection products here.
- During a single guest’s stay, hotels may reduce in-room cleaning services and offer clean linens outside the hotel room door. Trash pickup and linen exchange should occur at least every 7 days.
- Staff should post signs/posters promoting proper handwashing (soap and water, ≥20 seconds). Staff should also maintain an adequate supply of soap and paper towels (if applicable) in all public restrooms.
- Printable resources for hand washing guidance, how to stop the spread of germs, and what to do if you are sick are located here on the CDC’s webpage. Staff should post these signs/posters in public restrooms, elevators, and other public areas.
- Staff should continue to maintain physical separation of clean and soiled goods (such as linens and glassware) on housekeeping carts and in the laundry room/kitchen area.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Management should train all staff on the proper use of personal protective equipment (including putting on and taking off). Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes (but is not limited to) disposable gloves, puncture-resistant gloves, eye protection, and face protection. This training should specifically cover topics like handling soiled linens, cleaning restrooms, and collecting garbage.
- Visit OSHA’S website for more info on PPE here.
- All groups should be limited to less than 10 people per the Governor’s Executive Order 53.
- Guests should be encouraged to bring their own disinfecting cleaners and hand sanitizer for their personal use.
- Staff should be encouraged to stay home if showing symptoms of illness. Even mild signs of illness include fever, cough, shortness of breath could pass the infection to others. Additional symptoms may include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
- Staff should also be encouraged to “work from home” if their responsibilities do not require being on site at the lodging establishment.
- Management should reiterate to staff that this guidance is also applicable to operational areas in the “back of house” at the lodging establishments.
- Management should set up a means of communicating with guests over the internet or telephone. This will limit face-to-face interactions for transactions like checking in and complaints/requests from guests.