As employers across all industries continue to navigate the crisis created by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the shift for some businesses – including hospitality – will be how to safely restart operations when current restrictions are lifted. The consensus among health experts is that COVID-19 will continue to circulate even as governmental restrictions are eased. With that in mind, employers and employees alike will have concerns about workplace safety and preparedness as they return to the work environment.
It will be up to each individual employer to evaluate their operations to determine which protocols should be implemented. Some protocols will likely continue to be mandated by local authorities, such as physical distancing and limiting the size of groups. Other protocols may be considered as well for the continued health and safety of both employees and guests.
The CDC has released various guidelines for protecting employees as businesses begin to reopen. These can be found by following this link: CDC Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses.
Because of the wide variety of tasks performed by the traditional departments at a hotel (front desk, sales, housekeeping, engineering, food service, etc.) a department by department approach will assure that key safety measures are implemented effectively. Some key areas of consideration for each department include:
- Ensure appropriate postings are prominently displayed. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide additional sick leave along with medical and family leave due to specific COVID-19 factors. The appropriate poster can be found on the Department of Labor’s website: FFCRA Poster
- The CDC is currently recommending that all people wear a face covering when outside their own home. While this is a recommendation at the national level, some local authorities have put orders in place for face coverings. Ensure that these local policies are being followed by employees and guests alike. CDC guidance on use of face coverings
- Determine what controls for employee screening will be put into effect. As an example, the EEOC has determined that screening such a body temperature checks are permissible in the current climate. The following linked article from the Covington & Burling law firm further explores the issues related to employee screening: Screening Measures for Employees Returning to Work. More information can be found at the EEOC website: EEOC Coronavirus FAQ
- Implement and/or continue heightened cleaning and disinfecting schedules. Special attention should be paid to high touch surfaces such as doorknobs and door hardware, countertops, elevator buttons, shared carts, shared tools, and shared computer equipment.
- The CDC highlights a number of protocols to maintain a healthy work environment:
- Increasing ventilation rates and the percentage of outside air that circulates in the building
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles
- Provide hand sanitizer at multiple locations in the building (at least 60% alcohol)
- Discourage handshaking
- Work to maintain six feet of physical separation at all times
- Provide physical partitions between employees and guests where interaction within six feet is required.
- Place posters encouraging proper hygiene near the entrance where they are likely to be seen by employees and guests alike
- Develop an action plan for when an employee presents symptoms or is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19. Per the CDC, This should include measures to isolate the sick employee and inform other employees who may have been exposed while maintaining confidentiality as required by ADA laws.
A return to relative normalcy will likely be a complicated and perhaps lengthy path and the above considerations are no by means an exhaustive list. Hopefully, the key issues to address (as identified by the CDC) will help you to develop a plan to safely reopen your operations.
For more of our coronavirus coverage, visit epicbrokers.com/coronavirus
EPIC Hospitality Team
Successfully managing risk by identifying and controlling potential sources of loss is the most effective strategy to protect and grow your business and to reduce insurance costs. As your advocate and partner in this process, our experienced team of hospitality industry specialists will identify the risks you face and recommend strategies to minimize, mitigate or eliminate them.