COVID-2019 is a new strain of coronavirus that emerged in central China at the end of 2019 and continues to spread around the globe. The COVID-2019 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is already having a major effect on the travel and, more specifically, the hospitality industry. As governments impose travel restrictions to certain impacted areas and guests begin to question the wisdom of traveling, hotel owners, managers and operators should be well prepared to monitor and address concerns impacting the hospitality industry as a result of the virus.
Hotel Operations during the COVID-19 Outbreak
We suggest the following operational recommendations for our hospitality clients:
- clean routinely and frequently touched surfaces and objects, including but not limited to front desk areas, elevator banks, coffee stations and the like
- offer materials, in multiple languages, to educate customers in various languages about proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette
- advise any guests who may feel sick to limit face-to-face contact with others and to seek immediate medical help
- consider alternatives and safety protocols for large, public events held on hotel property
- review your internal communications and preparedness plan and ensure that all hotel staff are ready, know their role in keeping the hotel and its guests safe, and are aware of all communications protocol
- follow Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements, set forth in Sections 13 and 14 of the OSHA No. 1 of 2006, which impose various duties on the employer to ensure a safe and healthy work environment
- discuss human resource considerations such as screening staff that has traveled to areas where the virus has been reported, instituting an employee travel ban and implementing protocols for dealing with a situation in which an employee might be infected with the virus
- review leave policies and confirm compliant with legal requirements around mandatory quarantines
- consider ongoing public relations communications with loyalty members, as well as leisure and business travelers, to inform them of the steps you are taking to protect guests
- conduct risk assessment analysis and anticipate supply chain interruption
- review any rights or remedies the hotel may have under policies of insurance, which may include coverage for business interruption
- consult with counsel as the coronavirus impacts the hotel, contractual obligations and business operations including the treatment of force majeure events and cancellation policies
Holland & Knight attorneys in the following areas are well versed in addressing issues related to COVID-19:
If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects on the hospitality industry, please contact a member of Holland & Knight's Hospitality, Resort and Timeshare Group, including Partners Kelly Bagnall, Joseph Guay, Christopher Camarra or Stacie Goeddel.
To learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting the commercial real estate industry, see Holland & Knight's alert: " Coronavirus/COVID-19: Considerations for Landlords and Property Managers."
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.