Precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 for hotels and tourist accommodations
The Health Services of the Ministry of Health, as part of a series of instructions to health professionals to prevent the spread of COVID-19, urge hotel and tourist accommodation executives to apply the following protection measures.
It is understood that the term tourist accommodation also includes workers' rest spaces. It is noted that for the purposes of these instructions, all staff who come into contact with the public or with places visited by the public, as well as suppliers, are considered as employees in hotels and tourist accommodations. These measures should be considered as the minimum to be applied. Accommodation executives are advised, in addition to these measures, to formulate extra ones in accordance with the configuration and conditions prevailing in their premises. These measures should include the handling of any suspected case of COVID-19 infection, whether it concerns an employee or a customer.
In the context of the hoteliers' existing obligation for a Written Risk Assessment and the existence of a safety management system, the issue of COVID-19 should also be included.
It is also important that the hotel management/tourist accommodation define roles and responsibilities for staff to communicate the information effectively (e.g. if any of the staff get sick the management needs to be informed immediately) and also to let the staff know what to do in the event of any incident.
Provisions for hotels and tourist accommodations
1. Personnel Hygiene
- Written instructions and training on how COVID-19 is spread should be provided to the staff by the hotel/tourist accommodation management so that they are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and be able to recognise them in a timely manner. The aim is to be able to request appropriate medical assistance and laboratory testing and to minimise the risk of infection of both the public and other workers.
- All staff working at the hotel/tourist accommodation must have training on the precautions: maintaining a distance of 2 meters from other persons, using an appropriate mask, hand washing and breathing hygiene (coughing or sneezing, covering the nose and mouth with tissue which is discarded directly into the waste. If this is not available, cover the mouth and nose with the inside of the elbow), avoid hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth to reduce the risk of infection with the virus, frequent hand hygiene especially after contact with respiratory secretions, before eating and after use of the toilet (hand hygiene includes either cleaning the hands with soap and water or rubbing hands with alcoholic solution, rubbing with alcoholic solution is preferable when the hands are not visibly stained, washing hands with soap and water especially when they are visibly stained).
- Staff showing symptoms of COVID-19 should be away from work and contact their personal physician directly by telephone. In case of symptoms during work, the employee should immediately leave work and return to it only when symptoms cease and after having consulted his/her personal doctor in the meantime.
- The management of the hotel/tourist accommodation will make arrangements for the continuous monitoring of staff regarding possible flu symptoms.
- Employees who serve the public should try and limit to any extent possible their conversations with customers and stick to what is strictly necessary.
- Attempt to make staff work in groups with a permanent recommendation in order to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus in the event of an outbreak.
- People who may be more vulnerable and belong to vulnerable groups, should not perform tasks that leave them particularly exposed (e.g. at the reception) and generally, they should not come in contact with customers.
2. Organization of indoor spaces at hotels and tourist accommodations
- Mandatory dispersion of customers during 'check-in' and arrangement of this service at different times.
- Checks to be carried out on arrival on the basis of the appropriate control protocols, as defined by the Decrees of the Minister of Health. External symptoms are observed and the social rules of distance, etc. are kindly requested. Under the current Decrees, if required, an electronic thermometer shall be carried out for possible fever, and anything else specified by the existing Decrees is requested. The approach to the reception counter is made one person at a time (for each service person) and the two persons follow the appropriate safety distance.
- Prohibition of room availability to a new arrival, 2 hours prior from the previous departure, if thorough cleaning, disinfection and ventilation are not done first. Particular emphasis should be placed on surfaces that are often touched with hands such as bedside tables, bed heads and the rest of the room furniture, toilets, washbasins, doorknobs, etc.
- Disinfection of all keys/entrance cards for the rooms, after the departure of the customer.
- There will be constant availability of antiseptic at the entrance, in the reception area, communal toilets and other prominent places.
- There will be disposal bins with covers in prominent parts of the hotel, preferably with a footlever.
- It is permitted to use air conditioners provided that the continuous intake of fresh air is ensured either by the use of mechanical systems or by natural regular ventilation of the space (maximum number of doors and windows in public areas on each floor remains open throughout the 24-hour period or at least during most of the 24 hours and definitely during peak hours).
- Especially with regard to ventilation in the common indoor toilets where a technical ventilation system is installed: if possible, ensure the technical ventilation in the toilets on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day, and prevent the opening of the toilet windows in order to achieve the correct direction of air-ventilation. In shared toilets where there is no technical ventilation system installed, open the windows. For shared toilets, the use of air jets should be prohibited.
- Each bedroom in hotels/tourist accommodations must have adequate natural ventilation. If natural ventilation is not possible, artificial ventilation should provide 100% fresh air without recycling.
- Particular care must be taken to ensure the systematic, adequate and continuous natural ventilation of public spaces.
- Bed linen/tablecloth washing machines and kitchen equipment washers should always be in excellent working order.
- The terms of air-conditioning apply as they are stated in the instructions issued either by the Department of Electromechanical Services or from the Department of Labour Inspection or from the Ministry of Health. A Technical Directive for the Operation of Air Conditioning / Ventilation Systems (HVAC) has already been issued by the Department of Labour Inspection which can be retrieved from the website: https://www.pio.gov.cy/assets/pdf/COVID-19%20Texnikes%20Odigies%20Kentrika%20Systimata%20Exaerismou-Klimatismou2.pdf.
Also, take care of more frequent maintenance of air conditioners, cleaning of filters and checking their proper operation.
3. Organization of outdoor hotel and tourist accommodation spaces
- The minimum distance between two sunbeds located under different umbrellas is set at 2 meters.
- A towel which should be under the responsibility of the bather must be placed on the sun lounger.
- The management ensures the mandatory disinfection of sun loungers and chairs and tables after use by each customer. It is also obliged to disinfect hygiene facilities regularly, posting a programme which will be displayed in case of inspection by an authorised officer.
- Reduce cash transactions to any extent possible and instead promote contactless transactions.
- Until further restrictions are lifted, the use of changing rooms and showers operating in public enclosed areas shall be avoided as far as practicable. Where possible, the management of the hotel/tourist accommodation shall ensure that these facilities are operated in open spaces. In case the use of changing rooms and showers in public enclosed areas is unavoidable, the management of the hotel/tourist accommodation should ensure the adequate cleaning and disinfection of each individual changing room and shower between each use by a customer/family.
- In any case, the management of the hotel/tourist accommodation should ensure that appropriate measures are taken to avoid creating favourable conditions for the spread of the disease bacterium of legionella.
- The organisation and operation of facilities (beds, umbrellas) in swimming areas will be regulated by the specific directives and decrees relating to this subject.
4. Provision of food and beverages
- The minimum distance between the tables of customers staying in separate rooms is set at 2 meters. It is understood that if a family resides in more than one room, this distance is not necessary.
- Reduction to the extent possible of cash transactions and promote contactless payments instead.
- People carrying food, drinks or other items to the rooms, as part of the room service must follow the minimum distance of two meters from the customer.
4.1 Buffet customer service
- The food display area should strictly follow the instructions of the current Decrees of the Minister of Health to avoid confusion and to maintain the required distance, from customer to customer, from customer to staff and from staff to staff.
- The food display area should be cut off in a visible and satisfactory way and the entrance - exit of persons to be regulated. At peak times, where the number of customers exceeds the maximum number of seats available, the entering-exiting and queue setting should be controlled by a qualified person.
- When entering the food display area, customers should make proper use of the antiseptic station before coming into contact with equipment or food.
- For coffee, tea and juice areas, where it is possible, to create additional spaces to offer these, and arrange for automatic service stations, which are preferred, enabling no need for hand contact with machinery. Stations should have a hand sanitization spot.
- Quick customer service should be facilitated, providing appropriate means for quick serving. The goal is to reduce the time spent there by 1-2 minutes. It goes without saying that every time a customer returns to the buffet, disinfection and waiting in line will be carried out as at the beginning, unless better solutions are found.
- Quick customer service should be facilitated, in order to reduce contact with food or tools such as pincers, providing similarly prepared portions or easily self-service food or drinks.
An example is bread or individual buns.
- Food/product portions are recommended, taking into account the environmental aspect of using packaging or wrapping materials.
- Serving pincers are a critical matter. There are the following options: The pincers should only be used by the staff serving the customers, or, where it is not possible to do so, to display the food in individual utensils so that the customers will take them as they are with them. If for some type of food it is inevitable that customers need to share pincers, then there must be a hand disinfection station nearby for mandatory use by the customer before handling the pincers, but also the management of the hotel/tourist accommodation to ensure frequent change of pincers.
- Performing work at the buffet should include hand disinfection at any time.
- Ensure the health and safety of the staff involved in serving food at the buffet, through a series of actions that do not bring them into contact with other groups, especially in restaurants or pool area and as such. There are options to give a specific service time, or to have a special space or to offer room service. The room service can be offered free of charge or at a reduced fee as a measure of encouraging its use.
5. Cleaning and disinfection
• Cleaning staff should be trained for the appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedure with respect to COVID-19. Appropriate documents posted in the section "Instructions for dealing with the effects of the virus at the workplace" are used for this purpose on the website of the Press and Information Office – https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/info.html.
- Careful and frequent cleaning and disinfection of commonly used items.
- Soap and paper dispensers in changing rooms and lavatories should always be filled and available with napkins, frequently checked for proper operation and cleaned regularly.
- Bed linen and clothing should be collected in plastic bags and then washed with detergent and water at a temperature of 60–90 °C and completely dried.
- Removal from room equipment of any linen which does not ensure strict hygiene. e.g. bed linen is either removed or changed at each arrival/departure. Additional linen equipment, such as additional pillows or blankets, will either be safely packed with special tape after sterilization or will be transported to a storage area and given if requested.
- Supply of communal lavatories with liquid soap, disposable hand towels (which will be discarded in buckets with a foot lever near the washbasins), and antiseptic alcoholic solution (70% alcohol content). Regarding the plastic bags for the bins, when filled, they should be tied tightly and removed immediately. Gloves should be disposed immediately in plastic bags inside waste bins and no attempts should be made to clean them, e.g. washing or reusing the gloves.
- In addition to the usual cleaning of toilets, frequent cleaning of the smooth surfaces used recurrently (e.g. doorknobs, handles, handrail of stairs or railings, switches, taps, elevator buttons, etc.) with common cleaners, i.e. liquid soap and water, or solution of household bleach (sodium hypochlorite at a concentration of 0.1%), or hydrogen peroxide in a concentration of 0.5%, or alcoholic antiseptic (70% ethanol). Please note that cleaning operations must be carried out using gloves and a work suit suitable for the purpose.
- Cleaning staff entering the rooms should wear disposable gloves and surgical masks and apply hand hygiene after their usage.
Care must be taken to ensure that sufficient consumable materials are continuously accessible at the hotel/tourist accommodation: • soap • alcoholic hand cleaning solution (70% ethanol) • tissues • protective face masks • disposable gloves • body thermometer • garbage bags • liquid surface cleaning detergents
For the purposes of public health protection actions, the hotel management must keep a record of:
1. Staff members indicating their place of work within the hotel
2. All persons staying at the hotel/tourist accommodation: -name, nationality, date of arrival and departure, contact details (address, telephone, e-mail), room where they were staying, in order to allow contact with the close relations of any COVID-19 case, which may be identified retrospectively.
3. External partners/guests who entered the hotel either for work (which is recorded exactly where and when it was done) or for a meeting with a relative or friend staying or working at the hotel/tourist accommodation (record the names, places visited and when).
The management of the hotel/tourist accommodation will also ensure the discreet monitoring of the guests for any possible appearance of obvious flu symptoms, and where necessary, it will ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as provided for in the relevant Decrees of the Minister of Health.
8. Tackling a suspected/confirmed case
In the event of a suspected/confirmed case being found, staff should keep their cool and immediately inform the ambulance service citizen's line at 1420 (24 hours availability) giving the following information:
1. Name and Last Name
2. Country of Origin
3. No. Passport
4. Arrival Date at the Hotel
5. Patient symptoms
6. Room Number and Hotel Unit Address.
During the presence of the patient in the premises of the accommodation and until their transfer to a Medical Center:
1. Inform the patient that it is best as he remains in his room with the room door closed until the arrival of the Medical Team.
2. A simple surgical mask and tissues are immediately given to a patient who has symptoms of respiratory infection (fever and cough or shortness of breath). If he does not wish to stay in his room, he should be indicated to another secluded space.
3. If there is an escort of the patient who wishes to stay close to him to care for him (e.g. spouse), the attendant must be given a simple surgical mask and recommended to wash his hands whenever he comes into contact with the patient's secretions (e.g. saliva) and in any case before the attendant touches his face or eats or drinks.
4. Staff should be instructed to avoid entering the patient's room if there is no significant reason. If a need occurs, a hotel staff member is advised to deal exclusively with any suspicious case. This reduces the number of staff members exposed to the infectious agent.
5. Used protective equipment (simple surgical mask, gloves) must be disposed of in a bin and under no circumstances reused.
6. After discarding the protective equipment, the hands must be thoroughly washed with water and soap. It is stressed that the use of hand sanitiser does not replace hand washing, which is a very important means of prevention.
7. All actions should be done calmly, steadily and with respect to the patient's personal data.
In case of transport of the patient, cleaning and disinfection of the room should be done as follows:
Disinfect the premises of the unit in which the person in question was moved/worked by an approved company, in accordance with the protocols and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, in accordance with the abovementioned Decree No.15 of 10/04/2020 and listed on the website https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/info.html
Please note that the disinfection certificate and the License Number of the disinfectant used should be submitted to the Medical and Public Health Services.
It is also recommended that:
1. Good cleaning of surfaces, often touched by the patient, such as doorknobs, toilet surfaces, etc., especially if the surfaces were contaminated with biological fluids.
2. Cleaning staff are recommended to use simple surgical mask, gloves and waterproof disposable robe. For as long as the cleaning staff will be working, they should not touch their mouth, nose or eyes with their hands, shouldn’t smoke or eat.
3. After removing the gloves it is necessary to wash the hands with water and soap. It is stressed that the use of hands sanitisers does not replace hand washing, which is the most important means of prevention.
4. Textile surfaces (e.g. furniture wallpapers) must be cleaned with a steam device (temperature 70°).