We are now at another month of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems we have to learn to live with this COVID-19 virus. Travel junkies are curious to know how safe it is to stay in a hotel during COVID-19. Unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still suggests staying home for your own safety as well as for those you may encounter upon leaving the house. Many countries have control over it but many are still struggling. Now the situation seems to be under control so lots of countries have opened their doors for tourism. If you are planning to travel this summer and stay in a hotel, local laws permitting, you’ll want to take as many safety precautions as possible. Staying in a hotel can be a risk and you should weigh not only your own vulnerability but also that of the people you anticipate interacting with. Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences said that this is all about minimizing risk. You can’t drive that risk down to zero, but you want to do every little thing to minimize risk, and if you do five or six little things, that may be the difference between you getting infected and you not getting infected. So, if you decide to book a hotel stay, here are some tips on how to stay in a hotel during COVID-19
How To Stay Safe in Hotels During COVID-19
1. Choose Your Destination Wisely
Avoid destinations that are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases, lest you become the latest statistic. If you’re going to a hotel where the incidence and prevalence of infection are very, very low, that’s obviously going to be safer because you’re less likely to run into or interact with someone that’s infected. But it’s no guarantee because, in hotels, people are coming from different parts of the country and the world.
2. To reduce the number of people in your room avoid housekeeping services
If housekeeping staff enters your room wearing a mask, they likely won’t spread the virus to the air or surfaces. Someone cleaning your room would pose little risk to you and the real risk of exposure comes from being around others. But there’s always a slight risk that no mask usage or improper mask usage at all could lead to the virus entering your room through housekeeping service. If you’re worried, skip out on housekeeping altogether. You can always ask for fresh towels to be dropped off outside your door because it is the only thing you must know before booking a room.
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3. Research the Hotel’s Plan to Protect Customer
The greatest risk of transmission comes from being in close contact with other people. The less contact you have to have with other people, the better off you will be. Are masks required or not? Will the hotel provide it for guests who don’t carry it? What kind of social distancing measures are in place? Are alcohol-based hand sanitizers readily available throughout the hotel? How often are public areas being sanitized? Is there a contactless check-in? What steps they are taking to protect guests visit the hotel’s website to check. If they have communicated what measures they are taking on their website, it shows that they are transparent, which is a good sign. Pick up the phone and ask directly if you don’t find your answers online, a hotel should have answers to all these questions readily available.
4. For Ventilation Open Your Windows
If the windows in your hotel room open (many don’t for safety reasons), you should let that fresh air in any way. The risk of airborne transmission is higher in indoor spaces with poor ventilation, so it’s a good idea to open windows and doors and increase the fresh air in the room. Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of coronavirus spread and helps you to stay safe in a hotel during COVID-19.
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5. Find out what the hotel’s Safety Plans for guests who fall ill during their stay
Worst case scenario, you’re suddenly not feeling well. You’re not in your hometown where you might know exactly what to do. Does the hotel have procedures for you to follow? Instead of getting your tickets for the latest show, the concierge needs to have the information for you to get your COVID test. You can ask the hotel if it has a resident physician, or if it has information on the nearest medical facilities.
6. Order your meal in the room instead of dining out
Given that you can’t eat or drink with a mask on, you’re best off avoiding the hotel’s restaurant and bar and instead ordering room service. If you are worried about how to be safe in a hotel room during COVID-19, room service would be a safer alternative than going to a restaurant because dining in your room will limit your contact with others. Worried about interacting with the staff as they deliver your meal? If staff are practicing regular hand hygiene and disinfection processes and wearing a mask, they can deliver room service while remaining six feet away from you. But you can also request a contactless delivery where your meal is left outside your door for added safety.
7. Stay at least 2 meters away from others and wear a mask
Whether or not your destination requires mask usage or social distancing, you should adhere to all pandemic safety policies suggested by the CDC. All the things that you have been doing to protect yourself still apply when you are staying in a hotel. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and being on vacation doesn’t change that. Always wear a mask when you’re in the public domain, and stay at least 2 meters apart and this applies to the elevator, too.
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8. Avoid the Gym and Spa
If you ask me, is a hotel safe during COVID? I will say yes but if you ask about the gym and spa in the hotel, I strongly oppose it. The gym is going to be really problematic because getting people to use masks may be challenging. And if they’re not using the masks, and are having an aerobic workout, they’re going to expel even more respiratory secretions over greater distances. But other facilities like the spa can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Spa circumstances have to be individualized. If you’re going for a massage and you’re wearing a mask and the therapist is wearing a mask, that would be relatively low risk. But whenever you enter a situation where you interact with other individuals, there’s still a relative risk.
9. Always ask for a room that has not been occupied for a few days
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the coronavirus can live on some surfaces, including plastic and stainless steel, for up to 72 hours. This means that there is a higher risk of coronavirus if the previous guest stayed in the room right before you check-in. Ask to stay in a room that has been vacant for three days for maximum safety. The risk of contracting the virus from a previous guest is pretty small if the room has been properly sanitized by hotel staff between stays
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