COVID-19 Employer Information for Hotels, Resorts, and Lodges

More Info for Hotels, Resorts, and Lodges

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Here’s what we currently know:

  • The main way the virus spreads is from person to person through respiratory droplets.
  • You may also be able to get COVID-19 by shaking someone’s hand or touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • The virus may be spread by people who do not have symptoms.

COVID-19 can sometimes cause serious complications. People at increased risk for severe illness include:

As a hotel, resort, and lodge employer, your workforce might come into contact with the virus when

  • In close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with other people at the worksite, which can include guests or coworkers.
  • Touching their mouth, nose or eyes after:
    • Shaking someone’s hand.
    • Touching surfaces in public areas such as the front desk/check-in counter and restrooms.
    • Touching or handling items such as cash, pens at the front desk, room keys, key cards, or merchandise.
    • Touching high-touch lobby surfaces such as tables, elevator buttons, water fountains, ATMs/card payment stations, and ice/vending machines.
  • Cleaning guest rooms.

You can protect workers by supporting them in maintaining both personal preventive behaviors (socially distancing, wearing cloth masks, washing hands) and environmental interventions. Evaluate your workplace to identify scenarios where workers cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from each other and/or guests. Use appropriate combinations of controls following the hierarchy of controls to address these situations to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. A committee of both workers and management may be most effective at identifying all possible scenarios.

While protecting workers, it is important to note that control recommendations or interventions to reduce exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) must be compatible with any safety programs and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required for the job task. Approaches to consider may include the following:

Create a COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Plan

Review the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and the Resuming Business Toolkit for guidelines and recommendations that all employers can use to protect their employees.

  • Continue to follow any state or local regulations for hotels in addition to the recommendations here.
  • Identify an on-site workplace coordinator who will be responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control.
    • In addition to work areas, identify other areas that may lead to close contact among employees, for example break rooms, outside patios, parking garages, inside lounging areas, dining areas/kitchenspdf iconexternal icon, game rooms, pools, hot tubs, saunas, spas, salons, lobbies, fitness centers, laundry rooms, and routes of entry and exit.
    • When developing plans, include all employees in the workplace, for example: staff, utility employees, maintenance, supervisory staff, hotel management, facilities staff, security staff, and housekeeping/janitorial staff, and outside contractors who may enter the facility.
    • If hotel guests or contractors enter the workspace, develop plans to communicate with them regarding modification to work or service processes.
    • Notify all workers that any COVID-19 concerns should be directed to the identified coordinator.
  • Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices.
    • Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisals, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.
    • Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures.
    • If contractors are employed in the workplace, develop plans to communicate with the contracting company regarding modifications to work processes.
  • Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees on scheduled workdays.
    • Screening options could include having employees self-screen before arriving at work or taking employees’ temperatures and assessing potential symptoms prior to beginning work (see CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers).
    • Make sure employees can maintain at least 6 feet of distance while waiting for screening, if done on site.
    • Make employee health screenings as private as possible and maintain the confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.

Take action if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19

  • Immediately separate employees who report with or develop symptoms at work from other employees and arrange for private transport home. These employees should self-isolate and contact their health care provider immediately.
  • Close off any areas that were used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person, if it is practical to do so.
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the workplace. Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared equipment used by the sick person, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces or objects. If other workers do not have access to these areas or items, wait 24 hours (or as long as possible) before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should immediately notify their employer of their results.
    • Sick employees should follow CDC recommended steps to self-isolate or seek care. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers.
    • A test-based strategy is not recommended to validate an employee’s illness, or to qualify an employee for sick leave or return to work.

Develop hazard controls using the hierarchy of controls to prevent infection among workers. You may be able to include a combination of controls noted below.

  • Engineering Controls (Isolate people from the hazards)
    Alter the workspace using engineering controls to prevent exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • Modify the alignment of workstations where feasible. For example, redesign workstations so workers are not facing each other.
      • Move electronic payment terminals/credit card readers farther away from the reception desk to increase the distance between the guest and hotel staff.
      • Update floor plans for lobbies, lounges, and restaurants, and redesign seating arrangements to ensure social distancing.
    • Establish, where possible, physical barriers between workers, and between workers and hotel guests.
      • Use strip curtains, plastic barriers, or similar materials to create impermeable dividers or partitions.
      • Consider installing transparent shields or other barriers where social distancing is not an option (e.g., reception desk).
    • Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact, such as break rooms, parking lots, and in entrance/exit areas.
      • Remove or space appropriately the chairs in the waiting area to discourage social gathering.
    • Consider making foot-traffic single direction in narrow or confined areas, such as aisles and stairwells, to encourage single-file movement at a 6-foot distance.
    • Use visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape, and signs to remind workers to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, including at their workstation and in break areas.
      • Consider these cues for guests and contractors as well, such as at the entrance or reception desk line.
    • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in multiple locations throughout the workplace for workers and hotel guests.
      • Use touch-free stations where possible.
      • Make sure restrooms are well stocked with soap and a way for people to dry their hands.
    • Make sure the workspace is well ventilatedexternal icon.
      • Work with facilities management to adjust the ventilation so that the maximum amount of fresh air is delivered to occupied spaces while maintaining the humidity at 40-60%. If possible, increase filter efficiency of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units to highest functional level.
      • Portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units may be considered to remove contaminants in the air of poorly ventilated areas.
      • Additional considerations for improving the building ventilation system can be found in the CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers and COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings.
    • Follow guidance for reopening buildings after a prolonged shutdown or reduced operation to help protect employees and occupants from mold and Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Administrative Controls (Change the way people work)
    Provide training and other administrative policies to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • All workers should have a basic understanding of COVID-19, how the disease is thought to spread, what the symptoms of the disease are, and what measures can be taken to prevent or minimize the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • Trainings should include the importance of social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more when possible), wearing cloth masks appropriately, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, not sharing personal items or tools/equipment unless absolutely necessary, and not touching their face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
    • Workers should be encouraged to go home or stay home if they feel sick. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance, and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
    • Consider maintaining small groups of workers in teams (cohorting) to reduce the number of coworkers each person is exposed to.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
      • If surfaces are dirty, clean them using a detergent or soap and water before you disinfect them.
      • Use products that are EPA registered for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon, diluted household bleach solutions, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, appropriate for surface disinfection.
      • Provide cleaning materials and conduct targeted and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces (guest rooms, break rooms, public areas, fitness centers, and conference rooms, countertops, doorknobs, toilets, tables, light switches, phones, faucets, sinks, keyboards, etc.)
        • Instruct guests to return room keys/key cards in a designated bin upon departure for later disinfection.
      • Provide disposable disinfectant wipes to reception desk staff and parking lot/valet staff to disinfect surfaces in between guest interactions.
    • Use devices that do not require the employee to handle guests’ credit and debit cards and institute a cashless policy. If this is not possible, ensure that cash and/or cards are handled with care by employees either by changing gloves between each transaction or using hand sanitizer between customers.
    • Provide employees adequate time and access to soap, clean water, and a way to dry their hands for handwashing.
      • Remind employees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, they should use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
      • Provide hand sanitizer, tissues and no touch waste baskets at the cash registers and in the restrooms.
      • Place hand sanitizer stations throughout the hotel, especially in common areas and outside of elevator doors.
      • Provide tissues and no touch waste baskets at the reception desk, in restrooms, the lobby, and in meeting rooms.
    • Maintain social distancing in the hotel, including at reception desks.
    • Limit the number of people in the hotel at one time. (Consult state and local guidance if available.)
    • For room service, consider taking measures to ensure contactless delivery.
    • Limit party size in common areas such as lobbies and lounges to no more than the established guideline recommended by your local/state health departments.
    • Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells. Consider limiting the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designating one-directional stairwells, if possible.
    • Consider restricting occupancy or closing areas that may generate high traffic such as hotel offices, conference rooms, restaurants and bars, fitness centers/sporting courts, and pools/saunas.
    • Consider suspending concierge services that require staff to directly handle guests’ items. This includes guest services such as luggage delivery, laundry service, and valet parking.
    • Use technological solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction such as online reservation and check-in, mobile room key, mobile access to menus, and contactless payment options.
    • Housekeeping staff should:
      • Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entering and after exiting a guestroom.
      • Discard all single use items either provided by the hotel or left by the guest.
      • Conduct targeted cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, remote controls, phones, toilets, toilet flush handles, sink faucets, door handles, pens, and irons.
      • Wear disposable gloves when handling trash.
      • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after handling waste.
      • If a guest is ill and isolating in their hotel room, discontinue all but essential housekeeping services to the room.
    • Additional precautions should be taken for cleaning a room after a guest who has been ill has checked out of the hotel:
      • Do not let anyone enter the room previously occupied by the ill guest.
      • Wait at least 24 hours before you enter the room. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
      • If possible, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation as long as this does not create any additional safety hazards to staff or guests.
      • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the room, as stated above.
      • Carpeted areas should be cleaned using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, if available.
      • Once the room has been appropriately cleaned and disinfected, it can be opened for guest use.
    • Wash all hotel linens according to the manufacturer’s label and dry on the highest setting possible. Allow items to dry completely before removing.
      • Staff should wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry. Wash hands immediately after removing gloves.
      • Do not shake dirty laundry.
    • Remind employees that people may be able to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms. Consider all close interactions (within 6 feet) with employees, hotel guests, and others as a potential source of exposure.
    • Post signs and reminders at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on social distancing, hand hygiene, use of cloth masks, and cough and sneeze etiquette. Signs should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, and may include signs for non-English speakers, as needed.
    • Communication and training should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, in preferred language(s) spoken or read by the employees and include accurate and timely information.
      • Emphasize use of images (infographics) that account for language differences.
      • Training should be reinforced with signs (preferably infographics), placed in strategic locations. CDC has free, simple posters available to download and print, some of which are translated into different languages.
    • Use cloth masks.
      • Cloth masks are intended to protect other people—not the wearer. They are not considered to be PPE.
      • Emphasize that care must be taken when putting on and taking off cloth masks to ensure that the worker or the cloth mask does not become contaminated.
      • Cloth masks should be routinely laundered, if possible.
      • Ensure cloth masks do not create a new risk (i.e. interfere with driving or vision, or contribute to heat-related illness) that exceeds their COVID-19 related benefits of slowing the spread of the virus. Cloth masks should also not be worn by anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without assistance. CDC provides information on adaptations and alternatives that should be considered when cloth masks may not be feasible (e.g., people who are deaf or hard of hearing, have intellectual or developmental disabilities, or sensory sensitivities).
      • Employees should consider carrying a spare cloth mask.
      • If the cloth mask becomes wet, visibly soiled, or contaminated at work, it should be removed and stored to be laundered later.
    • Consider requiring visitors to the workplace (service personnel, guests) to also wear cloth masks.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of controls because it is more difficult to use effectively than other measures. To be protective and not introduce an additional hazard, the use of PPE requires characterization of the environment, knowledge of the hazard, training, and consistent correct use. This is why special emphasis is given to administrative and engineering controls when addressing occupational hazards, including when applying guidance to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

    In the current COVID-19 pandemic, use of PPE such as surgical masks or N95 respirators is being prioritized for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance, unless they were required for your job before the pandemic.

In addition to the cleaning guidance above, employees cleaning guestrooms should:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before entering and after exiting a guestroom. Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Throw away all single-use items provided by the hotel or left by the guest.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, remote controls, phones, toilets, toilet flush handles, sink faucets, door handles, pens, and irons.
  • Wash all hotel linens according to the manufacturer’s label and use the warmest appropriate water setting. Allow items to dry completely.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry or trash.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Wash hands immediately after handling dirty laundry or trash.
  • If a guest is ill and isolating in their hotel room, discontinue all but essential housekeeping services to the room.
  • Additional precautions for cleaning a room after a guest who has been ill has checked out of the hotel:
  • Close off the room.
  • Wait 24 hours before you enter the room. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • If possible, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the room, as stated above.
  • Use a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
  • After the room has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for guest use.

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You don’t need to wear gloves if you wash your hands regularly (unless they are already required for your job).

  • Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Wash your hands at these key times:
    • Before, during, and after preparing food.
    • Before eating food.
    • After using the toilet.
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • After putting on, touching, or removing cloth masks.
    • Before and after work and work breaks.
    • Before and after cleaning guestrooms.

Do not touch your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.

Cover your coughs and sneezes.

  • Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Mental health and emotional well-being are important components of worker safety and health. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges in the ways many people work and interact with others, which may lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. It is important to pay attention to these in yourself and your staff and encourage staff to take advantage of available resources for managing mental health issues.

Information and resources about mental health, recognizing signs of stress, taking steps to build resilience and manage stress, and knowing where to go if you, your staff, or others need help are available here.

Last Updated Oct. 20, 2020