As the rules and regulations ease in the leisure and tourism sector, hotels, campsites, chalets and holiday homes will once again be open for business. If you own a holiday property, it can be a difficult and challenging time, as keeping the property clean and safe is your priority. The nature of holiday homes is that there are people constantly coming and going, which could raise the risks of virus transmission further. So what steps should you be taking if you own and manage a holiday property?
Advise holidaymakers with symptoms to avoid travel
Prevention is key when it comes to helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus and so ensure that all of your usual communications to your upcoming guests, whether by post, email or telephone, includes a reminder of the symptoms of COVID-19. Advise them that if they or any of their family display symptoms before the holiday, they should be tested as soon as possible. If all the tests are negative, they can continue with their holiday plans, but if any of the tests are positive, they must not travel to the property. If they are not able to access a test, then any groups that include a member with symptoms should not travel to the property either.
Conduct COVID-19 risk assessments and review regularly
In order to best assess the potential risks, you will be required to conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment at your property. You have a duty of care to protect not only your guests, but cleaners and any other people who may enter your property. A template of a COVID-19 risk assessment is here and it should assess who is at risk, where the high risk areas are in the property where increased changes of transmission are likely and what action needs to be taken to control the risks. Risk assessments are usually reviewed annually, but given the continued changes in government guidance and advice with regards to coronavirus, it would be sensible to review monthly, and immediately if there are any major developments or announcements.
Advise cleaning staff on new COVID-19 health and safety procedures
Cleaning staff are likely to be those most at risk as they will be entering and cleaning a property after the guests have left. They may also pose the most risk to the guests if they already have the virus and inadvertently bring it into the property during work. Therefore, it is important that cleaners work safely to protect both themselves and your guests. Cleaners should not attend work if they are displaying symptoms and should wear gloves and face masks for the duration of their cleaning tasks. They should maintain social distancing from other cleaners and if possible, they should avoid conducting cleans when the guests are still present at the property. It is also worth remembering that cleaners will need more time to deep clean and disinfect a property effectively, so if they are working on multiple properties for you, you should adjust and increase their working hours appropriately.
Ask guests to help with bedding changes and rubbish disposal
It may seem a strange request, but we all must accept that these are very different times and we must all play our part in keeping holiday properties safe for everyone. Some steps which could help to minimise the risks of transmission include asking guests to strip the beds before they leave and bag these up, so they can be quickly removed from the property and washed. Ask them to put their waste in a tied bag and dispose of it in an external bin and if weather permits, encourage them to regularly ventilate the property to allow air to circulate.
Remove non-essential items or rotate every 72 hours
Holiday homes are often designed to be a ‘home away from home’ and additions such as books, toys, brochures, dvds and often readily available. However, in the current climate you need to ensure that you are effectively cleaning in between guests and these items can just add to the time or complexity of the process. If they are not essential to the stay, it would make sense to remove these from the property and make them available on request. If certain items are important, such as a welcome folder, have several copies and simply rotate them on a 72 hour basis, as it is believed that the virus cannot live on surfaces for any longer than this period.
Keeping your holiday property safe and clean to COVID-19 standards is going to require much more effort than in the past, but it is essential to ensuring that travel and tourism can resume while we wait for either a vaccine or a suitable treatment to be unveiled. Please note that this article has been created for information only and does not constitute formal advice on managing COVID-19. The official advice and guidance is continually being updated, so be sure to check your local government and authority websites regularly to ensure you are working to the most recent guidelines, policies and procedures.