TRSA Issues Guidance for Hotel Operators
State and local officials are TRSA’s initial targets in its latest campaign to control COVID-19’s spread by promoting responsible linen, uniform and facility services practices. Governors, mayors and city managers have been urged by TRSA to guide hoteliers to clean all textiles daily and handle their linen under universal precautions similar to those required for healthcare textile handling, among other tactics to ensure guest safety and confidence.
These guidelines were sent May 7 to the National Association of Governors, U.S. Conference of Mayors and International City/County Management Association. All are expected to play a role in writing safety guidance documents for the nation’s hotels. TRSA’s recommendations cover practices for textile use, including washing and handling linens and uniforms, housekeeping and otherwise protecting guests and employees. These provisions extend the StaySafe cleaning standards of the American Hotel & Lodging Association released May 4.
In calling for hotels’ adoption of universal precautions, TRSA notes the importance of such guidelines’ directive that soiled textile handlers must presume all linens, uniforms, garments and other textiles are contaminated. These precautions indicate the need to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to housekeeping and laundry staff and others.
TRSA’s recommendation to clean all textiles daily – bed linens, towels and other items used by patrons or staff – provides an adjunct to StaySafe’s call for the highest wash temperatures possible, but no frequency requirement. TRSA’s provision recognizes that temperature isn’t the only determinant of hygiene. It must be balanced with wash time, chemistry and mechanical action to clean properly. Regarding frequency, TRSA research shows guests believe hotels are motivated to adopt linen conservation programs (washing less often than daily) mostly to control costs.
Management practices in the TRSA guidance are intended to ensure guests and employees remain safe and comfortable by raising lodging facility cleanliness standards, said TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci. In addition to universal precautions and daily textile washing, he called for at least the following practices to be included in any guidance for the hotel industry and every such facility’s safety plan:
- Staff should be given hygienically cleaned, commercially laundered uniforms and garments including front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house employees, as well as any foodservice staff, to wear throughout their shift.
- Research verifies the superior cleanliness and public preference for professional laundering of workwear. They should not be washed at home. Instead, they should be left at the hotel to be picked up and commercially laundered. A clean uniform or garment should be given out at the start of each employee’s shift, replacing the clothes in which they commuted to the hotel.
- Hygienically cleaned tablecloths, placemats and napkins should be used to reduce or eliminate disease transmission by touch. Replacing tablecloths between seating ensures a clean and safe table.
- Studies have shown tables with tablecloths are at least five times cleaner than tables left bare.
- These products can also identify the tables to be used for social separation. Placemats can accomplish a similar result by seating guests further apart at the same table or counter. Hygienically Clean Hospitality certification standards minimize contamination risk.
- If possible, do not shake soiled linen. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
- Carts and vehicles used to carry both soiled and clean linen must be properly sanitized after unloading and before reloading with cleaned goods. Clean linen must be properly covered during transport.
- Hand sanitizer dispensers should be placed throughout the hotel for guests and staff to use.
- Reusable face masks that meet CDC guidelines and disposable gloves should be worn by staff. Gloves should be replaced often throughout an employee’s shift.
- Commercial cleaning solutions should be used on all hard surfaces throughout the day, including entryway door handles, kitchen areas and bathrooms.
- All surfaces within the laundry, including the floors, should be cleaned daily, or more often if they become soiled. Daily cleaning of linen folding tables also is recommended. Using an approved disinfectant also is recommended.
“As America starts to get back to business and hotels begin to reopen, providing the public with clean and safe lodging options will be a key part of an economic recovery,” Ricci said. “Teaching and requiring the hospitality industry to abide by these steps should be a cornerstone of this process.”
Tactics listed in the TRSA hotel guidance applicable to restaurants, including the tablecloth and uniform provisions, are included in TRSA’s similar guidance for the foodservice industry. That campaign began April 28 when those guidelines were sent to the National Governors Association as well as business and consumer media. Both campaigns will provide TRSA members with tools to communicate the guidelines to customers and prospects.