Hotels planning to open their doors to tourism this summer in Spain will have no choice but to prioritise health and safety to reassure guests that they are Covid-free, thanks to new rules issued by the government.
The opening of hotels this summer will prove to be a tough task for many hoteliers, because it will be vital to ensure new health and safety measures are met, which won’t come cheap. In short, hotels expect fewer customers, but they have to fork out for costly changes to meet new health and safety requirements.
From a profitability point of view many hotels will opt to stay closed until the pandemic is over. However, those that do plan to open must comply with strict health and safety rules compiled by Spain’s Institute of Quality Tourism (ICTE) in association with the Confederation of Spanish Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (Cehat) and the Technology Hotel Institute.
Hoteliers are obligated to meet hundreds of measures for each hotel department and activity to ensure they meet the health and safety standards to keep both staff and hotel guests safe from the risk of Covid-19. Firstly, they need to ensure social distancing measures between staff and guests – as well as hygiene controls – are maintained. There will have to adhere to a set maximum number of people per area, to ensure safe distances can be maintained.
Hotels must also introduce screens in reception and ensure the use of masks, and potentially safety glasses. They will also have to invest in signs and floor markings to ensure that safe distances are kept. Card payment devices must be disinfected after every use. Keys/cards for hotel rooms will need to be deposited in a recipient with disinfectant. Each computer will need to be disinfected at the beginning and end of a shift for every employee. Staff need to keep clothes separate from their uniforms.
When it comes to room service and cleaning, hotel rooms cannot be cleaned with the client in the room. At the very minimum, all cleaners and room service staff will need masks and gloves. Uniforms also need to be washed at 60 degrees. If any repairs/ maintenance need to be carried out in a hotel room, the client again must not be in the same room. If that’s not possible, then the guest must wear a mask.
Restaurants will limit meals to individual dishes and there will be no buffet or commune or shared food/service areas. Waiters must wear masks and gloves in the restaurant and for room service to deliver/serve food. The kitchen will also have separate strict guidelines that have to be met.
Rooms for events will have to be ventilated two hours before the activity, and management must ensure that social distancing can be maintained. If not, attendees must wear a mask. It’s also recommended that animation activation takes place outdoors, ensuring that all materials used are disinfected thoroughly.
Hotel rooms will also have very limited decoration. Toilet paper will need to be dispensed automatically. Duvets and pillows need to be adequately protected and cleaned, as well as every aspect of the room. Everything from hangers to door knobs must now be disinfected thoroughly after every guest.
Gyms will also have restrictions both in the number of people allowed in the health and fitness areas to maintain social distancing. Machines must be placed so adequate social distancing can be maintained by clients. Towels need to be thrown in a bin with a foot pedal, that avoids hand touching. All activity classes must ensure a two-metre distance between guests and the instructor. Sufficient time must also be allocated between class sessions to allow for adequate cleaning and disinfecting of the area, as well as gym machines, several times a day.
Swimming pool areas must now also be heavily controlled by management. Only a fixed number of people will be allowed both in and around the pool area – depending on the size of the pool and surrounding area. Hammocks also need to be placed so there is enough distance between guests. Finally, the pool must have a good filter system. Children’s areas must be also be cleaned regularly and disinfected, and frequent disinfecting of small hands will be vital.
The use of lifts will now need to be limited to a smaller number of people to ensure social distancing is maintained. Only members of the same group/family can use a lift together if social distances can’t be maintained, unless masks are worn. In short, hoteliers will be subject to many tedious and costly procedures, potentially with licences to prove Covid-free status to win back the confidence of tourists, which may explain why many won’t bother to open their doors to tourism this summer.