Guidance For Hotels and Commercial Lodging in the City of St. Louis
Guidelines for hotels and commercial lodging operating protocols
Over the past several weeks we have collaborated with public health officials and leading hotel operators in the St. Louis region to prepare for the return of hotel meeting and event activity in a safe and responsible fashion. A working group of hotel executives from the following properties with deep hospitality experience was assembled including Lodging Hospitality Management, St. Louis Marriott Grand, Live! by Loews, Chase Park Plaza and Midas Hospitality who understand the operational complexities of running hotels in the present environment.
The recommendations contained herein do not supersede Public Health orders, laws or regulations that apply to your business and jurisdiction.
The goal of the protocols outlined in the document is to minimize contact reducing the risk of virus spread among both staff and riders. The core set of principles that together prevent the spread of infections by respiratory transmission (including COVID-19) include:
- Practice social distancing – maintain 6 feet between and among employees and guests at all times
- Monitor employee health – ensure your employees are in good health and screen employees for COVID-19
- Use protective equipment – a fabric face cover must always be worn by employees and guests
- Clean/sanitize/disinfect – wash and sanitize hands, and wipe down frequently touched surfaces with EPA-approved disinfectant (Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants.)
Hotel Responsibilities to Staff
- Provide all staff members with proper protective equipment including fabric or disposable facial covering for all, and gloves (with instructions for proper use to avoid cross contamination).
- Task appropriate EPA-registered chemical disinfectant cleaning supplies should be provided as necessary to all staff members.
- Use EPA-registered disinfectants for all routine cleaning. For a list of products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the novel coronavirus, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
- All linens, including bedspreads and bedskirts, should be washed regularly. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and add bleach or another disinfectant to laundry. Wear gloves when handling dirty linens.
- Make disinfectant wipes available to front-of-house staff and instruct them to wipe down countertops, key cards, pens, and other shared surfaces.
- Give additional training to all cleaning staff. Staff should know how to:
- Put on, wear, and remove face coverings appropriately
- Put on and remove disposable gloves safely
- Use disinfectants according to manufacturer directions
- Disinfect all high-touch surfaces, including door handles, toilet and faucet handles, light switches, remote controls, ice and vending machines, and elevator buttons
- Recognize and report the signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- Provide training to all staff in social distancing requirements, proper hygiene, the proper wearing and use of face coverings and gloves, and guest interaction protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Hotel should create a safe environment for staff to work in that includes distancing of work areas, distancing from guest interactions, and additional signage throughout back of house spaces as reminders for safe practices.
Staff Arrival and Departure
- Upon arrival at work, employees must be masked, and employers must conduct health checks (e.g., temperature and symptom screening) of employees at the start of each shift. Conduct health checks safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations. Confidentiality should be respected. Employers may use examples of screening methods in CDC’s General Business FAQs as a guide.
- Screening should include 1) a temperature check if it can be performed with a touchless thermometer, 2) asking about the presence of cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle ache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell and 3) asking if the employee has had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, new or worsened cough, trouble breathing, new or worsening body aches, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
- Employees with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or above, or who answer yes to any of the screening questions must not be allowed to enter the workplace. Employees who develop any symptoms of respiratory illness while at work must immediately be sent home. Employees with symptoms should contact their healthcare provider for additional guidance.
- Employees who are sent home with symptoms should not return to work until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation or they have been cleared to return by their healthcare provider.
- If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, work with local health agencies to ensure all employees and customers who can be identified as having had close contact while the employee was infectious are contacted. While awaiting formal investigation, compile a list of employees, customers, or other people known to be in close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees identified as having close contact should be immediately sent home or told not to come into work until the investigation has been conducted.
- Close off areas recently used by an employee or customer who has tested positive for COVID-19 and do not reuse them until after cleaning and disinfection. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants.
- Covered employers and employees should be aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons, such as for self-quarantining or seeking a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Staff should always wash hands when arriving at and before leaving the worksite using warm water (at least 100°F) and soap for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing should be repeated after any of the following activities: using restrooms, sneezing, touching the face, blowing the nose, cleaning, sweeping, mopping, eating or drinking. When hand washing is not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
- Keep all personal items, including cell phones and laptops, in the designated areas to prevent contamination of workspaces. Personal items such as outerwear should be stored in a locker or other designated area. The hotel should consider providing each employee with a clear plastic bag for their items.
- Reusable bottles/cups must stay in the personal items area, single use cups are suggested.
- Dispose of gloves and hairnet in designated trashcans before leaving the worksite.
- Post signs around worksites to remind staff and guests of health and safety procedures.
- Keep records of guest and staff movements, including guest registrations, employee schedules and assignments, electronic lock records, and security camera footage, for at least 30 days. This information can help trace who has been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
- Train all staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Hotels should review each guest to staff and guest to guest interaction areas and adjust as necessary to minimize contact points. Suggested areas are noted below.
Guest Arrival and Check-in
- Arrival – Hotel policies should minimize contact with shared objects such as door handles. Therefore, guests should enter the hotel through doors that are propped open if they are not automated instead of having a doorman open them. If possible, dedicate and mark a portion of the doors ‘entry only’ and the other portion of doors ‘exit only’.
- Propping the front door open is only permitted when a food service area is not in the immediate vicinity.
- Hotel should provide hand sanitizer immediately outside and inside the door if it must be opened by hand.
- Hotel staff should not open the doors of vehicles containing arriving guests (cars, taxis, shuttle vans, etc.). If hotel staff must open vehicle doors, they should either wear gloves and dispose of them after each interaction or wash hands immediately after each interaction.
- Signage – Should be placed at the entrances and throughout common areas asking guests to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.
- Check-in – Upon arrival, hotel may elect to ask guests to complete a health screening questionnaire:
- Have you been tested for COVID-19?
- Are you awaiting results of a COVID-19 test?
- Do you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (the symptoms should be listed on the questionnaire)?
If hotel implements this procedure, they should offer prominent communication before check-in (such as text message the day before) indicating the guest should not visit the hotel if they are currently having, or had symptoms recently, had a diagnosis of COVID-19, or had close contact with a known case. In addition, a plan should be in place for when someone screens positive on site.
- Temperature Checks – A hotel may elect to implement guest temperature checks. If they do so, points of entry may be limited to ensure that it will be done thoroughly. Guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or any other COVID-19 symptoms should be reported to management and local health officials and directed to seek medical care. As they are likely from outside the St. Louis region, a plan should be in place to transport the guest to a local health facility. Should a guest have no other alternative than to remain at the hotel, they should not be permitted in the hotel restaurants and stores. They should be instructed to order room service and self-isolate while on the property to prevent exposing other guests and staff. Staff should wear gloves and surgical/isolation masks and practice no touch food and dish transfers when providing room service to self-isolating guests and should prioritize washing and sanitizing of soiled dishware coming from these room to avoid potential contamination of other surfaces and dishware. Disposables should be considered where possible.
- Physical Distancing – On arrival, guests should be advised about the hotel’s practices for their safety (this information will also be included on the hotel’s website). Signage should be prevalent throughout the hotel, reminding guests to practice physical distancing by standing at least 6’ away from other groups of people not traveling with them while standing in line or using elevators. Lobby furniture should be strategically arranged to provide appropriate distancing of 6’ to assist guests in maintaining distance while not in their guestroom.
- Hotel shuttle vans - Van drivers should wipe down seats, door handles and grab bars between runs, and drivers must wear masks and gloves.
- Valet parking services should be suspended. If deemed necessary, valet staff must wear gloves and masks and wipe down any surface touched such as steering wheel, door handles, keys, etc.
- Bell Carts - If the guest needs assistance with luggage, the bell cart should be sanitized after each guest is assisted.
- Elevators – No more than 2-3 passengers should ride in a standard size elevator at one time and all should wear a facial covering.
- Hand Sanitizer – The hotel should place hand sanitizer at key guest encounter points, such as hotel entrance, front desk, elevator banks, meeting and conference areas, entrances to restaurants and snack bars, and guests should be advised to use regularly.
- Maintain a 6 distance between front desk staff stations and employ sanitary principals to keep keyboards and counters clean. Add a Plexiglass barrier between staff and guest such as at the reception and concierge desks. Staff and guests should wear masks during front desk interactions.
- Keys and keyboards should be disinfected regularly after use. Precautions will need to be taken as to not damage keys or keyboards. Staff will need guidance from management on proper cleaning protocols.
- The check-in and check-out process should be done as quickly as possible to minimize interactions while maintaining 6 feet of separation. If the hotel has pre-arrival check-in available, this should be promoted for touchless check-in prior to arrival, as well as check-out from the guest room TV or personal device.
- Surface Areas - All hard and high touch surfaces should be fully cleaned and disinfected with EPA-approved virucidal cleaners in guest rooms, and on a high frequency basis (at least twice daily) in all frequent use areas, including elevator buttons, public restroom sinks, toilet handles, touch points, seating area furniture, keyboards and keys, push/pull bars, stairwell handles, escalator handles, elevator handles, all welcome desk areas and entrances and any other surfaces or areas that may apply.
Guest Room Detail
- Reusable collateral such as room service menus and directoriesshould be removed from guest rooms and replaced with single use collateral. Single use collateral to be replaced after each guest.
- Housekeeping Services – All precautions should be taken by cleaning and disinfecting each room in accordance with CDC and EPA guidelines after each guest checks out.
- 10 High Touch Deep Clean areas in the Guest Room
- Switches and Electronic Controls (e.g. television remote)
- Handles and Knobs Throughout oBathroom Surfaces
- Climate Control Panels oTelephones, Remote Controls and Clocks
- Bed and Bedding oBath Amenities
- Hard Surfaces
- Closet Goods
- In-Room Food and Beverage Dispensers (Coffee makers, refrigerators)
- Any other surfaces not listed above
- Discontinue the use of in-room mini bars and snack offerings that will not be discarded between guests.
- It is recommended that housekeeping staff not enter and service the room during each stay unless requested by guest to have their room serviced or to receive fresh towels. If guest requests, then a full cleaning as noted above should be completed, and linens replaced and should only be done when guests are not in the room. Guests should not enter the room during the cleaning process.
- Recommend that employers have the same team members working the same shifts whenever possible. This allows for containment and contact tracing in case of contamination or an employee testing positive.
- Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
- Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. Do not open windows and doors if they pose a safety risk to employees, or other vulnerable individuals.
Food and Beverage Outlets and Kitchen Practices (See Restaurant Protocols for Full Guidance)
- Banquet rooms and bar areas that primarily serve alcohol and do not serve full meals should remain closed.
- Prop open frequently used interior doors to avoid /minimize contact. Where possible, doors should open hands-free by using automatic and foot-actuated openers. All door handles and high-touch areas should be disinfected by wiping down with a clear cloth and diluted bleach or certified EPA cleaner.
- Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- Set up hand-washing/sanitizing stations at all entrances/exits/high-traffic areas.
- Designate trashcans specifically for staff protective equipment - always keep lid securely sealed. Empty protective equipment trash cans frequently - always wearing gloves that are then disposed of after removal.
- As best they can, staff should always maintain a distance of 6 feet from others in both the kitchen and dining room. Exterior and interior seating should be adjusted to accommodate 6 feet of separation between dining parties unless there is a partition that physically separates the parties.
- In restaurants with booth seating, installing plexiglass partition (or any other solid material) to separate parties, as an alternative to 6’ between booths, is permitted as long as the divider is at least 60” high from the floor.
- Limit group size of tables, ideally to 6 persons, but no more than 10, preferably members of the same household. Dining parties arriving together may be seated at a table or booth where their separation from each other may be less than 6 feet.
- Food prep stations in the kitchen must be set up at least 6 feet apart.
- Kitchen staff should practice ‘no-contact’ transfers: place items down on a counter for the next person to pick up, rather than passing back and forth.
- Outdoor dining is recommended as it likely poses less risk for virus transmission than dining in interior spaces. St. Louis City and County officials will assist you in obtaining the necessary permits to introduce or expand your outside dining space. The City of St. Louis Food and Beverage Control Program can be reached at (314) 657-1539. The St. Louis County Food Safety Program can be reached at (314) 615-8900. Separation regulations apply equally to interior and exterior dining.
- Consider a reservation-only business model or call-ahead seating. Offer call ahead ordering to limit the time customer is in the restaurant and around others.
- Mark every 6 feet in distribution lines with chalk, tape, cement decals, etc. It is recommended that guests wait in their car for their table to become available with one member of the party remaining in line, or the restaurant having a text notification system.
- It is recommended restaurants offering dining service maintain a log of customers to assist public health officials with contact tracing if necessary. Your POS system may provide this function, or use of a hand registry to write and record the name, date and phone number of each party.
- Single use menus should be used and disposed of once used by each individual customer. An alternative is posting your menu online in a mobile-friendly fashion inviting guests to browse on their smart phone. If a laminated menu must be used, wipe them down with an EPA certified sanitizer after each use.
- All condiments including salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and mustard should be removed from all tables. These items should only be handled by service and kitchen staff. If single serve packets are provided, they should not be re-used for subsequent customers. Any remaining packets should be discarded between customers. Holders and dispensers for single use packets should not be used.
- Discontinue self-serve food and drink options, such as buffets, salad bars and drink stations.
- Gaming areas, including darts, pool, video games, etc. should remain closed at this time.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Limit the number of employees in shared spaces, including kitchens, break rooms, and offices to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between people. Train employees and post signage to avoid congregating with co-workers in communal areas.
- Kitchen staff should wear and change gloves frequently throughout every step of food preparation. Change gloves between handling food and touching kitchen equipment, doors, handles, etc.
- Wash hands frequently. Hand washing with soap and water should continue to remain a top priority. Wash hands every 30 minutes or anytime you leave your cooking station or come in contact with any other high touch areas such as refrigerator/freezer doors.
- After hand washing, employees need to dry hands off and turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Special note: do not use clean hands to turn off the faucet or use cloth linens or towels to dry hands.
- Kitchen surfaces, especially hand sinks, handles, prep stations, and door knobs need to be wiped down with disinfectant or EPA-approved sanitizer at least every hour. A log should be created to document all practices with a checklist. Kitchen staff should utilize fabric or disposable masks while preparing food, if available. For information on EPA-approved disinfectants, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
- Store to-go containers in protective plastic covers. Employees when handling to-go containers should always wear gloves. Limit the number of employees handling containers to as few of staff as possible.
- China, glass and silverware may be used for in-restaurant dining as long as FDA-approved washing, rinsing and sanitizing standards are met. Diligent care should be taken to ensure sanitizer concentration and water temperature requirements are strictly followed. Dish washing machine sanitizing mechanisms should be closely monitored and chemical concentration/temperature tested using the appropriate test kit or temperature measuring device every 4 hours minimally. Hands should be washed after handling soiled dishes and before handling clean dishes.
- Use EPA-approved sanitizer throughout the restaurant. Visit EPA.gov to find the current list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
- Dedicate a team member to disinfect the area occupied by customers upon departure including tables, chair backs, menus and pens. Decorative centerpieces and table tents should not be used unless disposable and single use. Gloves should be worn by staff and disposed of after cleaning each table. Consider the use of disposable menus, dishware and napkins.
- Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected regularly using EPA-recommended disinfectants, particularly high-touch surfaces such as faucets, toilets, doorknobs, and light switches. Make sure restrooms are regularly stocked with supplies for handwashing, including liquid or foam soap and disposable paper towels for drying hands. Providing hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol is a supplement to hand washing, but not a replacement. Restroom waste receptacles should be emptied regularly.
- All restaurant kitchen staff should wear the following while on site:
- Disposable food-grade gloves
- Hairnet, hat, or other hair restraints
- Face covering (fabric or disposable masks)
- Please review these recommendations concerning the proper use of PPE prepared by the World Central Kitchen: https://wck.org/covid19-safety.
- Staff should change their face covering if it becomes soiled or wet.
- Wash/sanitize hands after changing masks and before putting on a new pair of gloves.
- Change gloves when switching tasks, handling different foods, or after touching objects that should be considered contaminated (cell phone, computer, clothes, door handles, mask, face, etc.)
- If the integrity of a glove is compromised (e.g. ripped, punctured) change gloves immediately - wash hands per proper protocols
- Face covering worn by service staff may be made of launderable fabric.
- It is recommended that all guests be required to wear a protective mask while entering and leaving the restaurant, and only remove them while at their tables.
- Cups, lids, napkins and straws should be handed directly to customers by staff as opposed to self-service.
- No self-serve drink, food service or buffet options unless food and drink is pre-packaged.
- Do not place utensils on table until patrons are seated.
- Service staff are not required to wear gloves, but must wash their hands frequently and between serving tables for at least 20 seconds. If a hand washing station is not immediately available, they must also rub their hands thoroughly with hand sanitizer containing 70% alcohol.
Payment and Delivery Procedures
- Limit physical contact with others as much as possible.
- To reduce contact, a central pay station is recommended for in-restaurant dining maintaining 6 feet of distance between staff and guests. If a line forms, 6 feet of separation should be maintained with chalk marks or decals on the floor. Another option is using a portable payment system that can be administered at each table.
- Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining physical distance of 6 feet is difficult.
- Cash transactions and cash tips are not recommended. If cash is transferred, the server should wash their hands after accepting.
- Invite guests to use their own pens when signing credit card or room charge authorizations. If not available, wipe the provided pen down with sanitary wipe after each use.
- Hand sanitizer should be placed conveniently at the payment station and be used by service staff and guests at the start and conclusion of each transaction.
- For curbside or delivery orders, pre-payment with a credit card over the phone or online, including gratuity provides a contactless transaction.
- Practice contactless transfers by placing items down on a counter for the customer to pick up. In the case of curbside delivery, ask the guest to open their trunk and place the order in.
- Delivery vehicles must be disinfected before and after each delivery by wiping door handles, steering wheel, control panel, gear shift, seat belts, etc.
- Gloves must be worn at all times and changed between deliveries. Practice ‘no-contact’ transfers.
- If delivering to a distribution site, avoid going inside the building(s). Have receiving contact meet outside and practice no-contact transfers.
Due to the very high risk of transmission of COVID-19 related to certain types of congregation common to such facilities, the following should remain closed:
- Entertainment areas, such game rooms, children’s play areas, fitness centers and swimming pools.
- Meeting and banquet rooms.
- In St. Louis County, bar areas that primarily serve alcoholic beverages and do not serve meals. In St. Louis City, these may open if all distancing and other guidelines contained within the Restaurant Protocols are adhered to.
Meetings of more than 10 are not permitted during Phase 1, but this will be re-evaluated after the initial re-opening for future phases.
- Meeting rooms always need to be designed in such a way to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between attendees, including ingress and egress. Theatre style chair sets should be appropriately distanced, instead of traditional rows. Classroom tables should be set in rows that have 6’ of distance between them. Banquet rounds are not recommended for meeting room sets during this time due to impracticability of spacing. U-Shape (maintaining 6 feet between the arms of the “U” and at the corners) and hollow square sets (watch the corners), and classroom sets (particularly if staggered), are preferred to banquet rounds.
- Pens and note pads should not be placed on the tables unless they will be disposed of after each session.
- Hand sanitizer stations should be arranged in all pre-function areas.
Fitness Centers are not permitted open during Phase 1, but this will be re-evaluated after the initial re-opening for future phases.
- Fitness Center should be staffed and monitored to ensure proper distancing and to sanitize the equipment between guest use. Guests must maintain 6 feet distance so maximum number of guests at any one time should be based on square footage of space.
- Equipment will be thoroughly treated with EPA-certified disinfectants with increased frequency.
- Disinfecting wipes should be available for use by guest before and after use of equipment.
- All machines and equipment should be spaced 6 feet apart or plexiglass barriers at least 7 feet high must be installed between them.
- If the hotel has other entertainment areas such a billiards, a swimming pool, or a children’s playroom, those areas will remain closed until a later time.