SA’s hospitality industry has a role to play in navigating a possible second wave

There are rumours of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections. It’s evident that this could be a reality if the South African public follow the trend as seen overseas by letting down their guard. The hospitality sector will once again be hard hit with many restaurants, bars or smaller hotels/B&B’s not being able to make it out on the other side should this lead to another lockdown.

Following recent reports of ‘super-spreader’ events and police raids at establishments which were still open after the midnight curfew it is evident that the South African public and the hospitality industry have become complacent.  The industry is currently preparing for the holiday season which will see an increase in visitor numbers to their establishments and inflow of much needed cash.

“The hospitality sector has a huge role to play in preventing or helping to curb the second wave by adhering to the government regulations and general safety practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19,”  says Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean.

One of the ways that the spread of infections can be minimised is by enforcing the regulations under lockdown level 1 with a focus on cleaning and hygiene.

For restaurants;

  • Ensure that the facility’s certificate of occupancy is on display and that staff on duty adhere to restrictions. Turning away guests might seem bad for business but may contribute to ensuring the industry stays open for business.
  • No matter how busy it gets, guests must sanitise their hands and their temperatures checked on arrival.
  • Make sure that casual staff or temp staff are fully informed of the regulations and receive training, specifically on hygiene.
  • Kitchen staff should regularly wash and disinfect surfaces and common high-touch areas in the back of house section.
  • Waiters should regularly be screened because they are potentially exposed to hundreds of guests.

The tourism industry, which is key a key contributor to the economy, (8% of the country’s GDP in 2019) is finally open for business. The industry should continue to be driven by the concerns and expectations of guests and employees.

Some points to consider for minimising the spread of Covid-19 amongst hotel guests and staff:

  • When developing plans, include outside contractors who may enter the facility.
  • Assess and introduce controls in areas that may lead to close contact among employees, for example break rooms, lounge areas, pools, lobbies, laundry rooms, and exit and entry points.
  • Establish, where possible, physical barriers between workers, and between workers and hotel guests
  • If hotel guests or contractors enter the workspace, develop plans to communicate with them regarding modification to work or service processes
  • Provide refresher training and other administrative policies to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Review cleaning practices for guest rooms such as; increasing the frequency of washing linen and items such as pillows and duvets if you are not using protectors. Limit luxury items like extra blankets and laundry services and communicate to guests that these changes have been implemented in the interest of guest’s safety.

Staff should be trained on the additional layer of care required to minimise the spread of infections and ensure that regulations specific to this sector are enforced with due care.

Looking up north, countries in Europe such as the UK, Spain, Italy and France are experiencing higher levels of coronavirus infections after the original lockdown restrictions were eased over the summer season.

Corder adds “With the summer weather and Festive Season break, South Africans will no doubt be socialising in big groups and visiting their favourite leisure ‘hangouts’ as they express their ‘regained’ freedom.”

She continues that, “by following the regulations the industry will not stop a second wave but will limit the spread in this sector.”

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