The United States is seeing record Covid-19 cases, with more than 200,000 a day, according to The New York Times. While health officials and experts, governors and leaders, are asking people to stay home while the virus surges, many people are starting to travel again, especially over Christmas and New Years. Is the risk worth it? And is a hotel safe to book right now?
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) issued a guideline and advisory regarding lodging: Staying home is the best way to protect yourself against the coronavirus.
What are the risks according to CDC?
There are varying degrees regarding risk factors when it comes to staying in hotels and lodging in general.
The highest risk is shared spaces with many people and shared bathrooms. In a hotel, this would be the lobby, a cafe, the public bathrooms and restaurants.
The level of risk a notch below “highest” is hotels or multi-unit guest lodgings (like a bed and breakfast), staying at a family member’s or friend’s home, or a house or cabin with people not in your household, like a vacation rental.
Hotels are in panic mode and getting creative with lack of reservations
Hotels have been significantly impacted by Covid-19. In July, it was reported that 8,000 U.S. hotels may close due to Covid-19.
Hotels are hanging by a thread to stay open as reservations have greatly dropped. Some hotels have had to get creative, like Marriott, which positioned as the new “work from home” destination.
Travelbinger even received a promotion from The Standard Hotel in East Village, New York. While nightly rates averaged $350 pre-pandemic (equating approximately $10,000 a month), the hotel offered a monthly rate of $3,000.
Hotels are in a pinch, and travelers will see enticing deals. In fact, they may see incredibly low hotel rates or unbelievable, too-good-to-be true packages, but it’s still recommended to wait until we can safely travel again.
The good news is that a vaccine is around the corner. While this doesn’t mean people will start traveling right away, it means that they will eventually get back to booking hotels as early as summer 2020.
Precautions to take if you book a hotel right now
For now, if you do travel, please travel safely. Here is a 9-point safety guide for traveling during Covid-19. CDC also advises all travelers to check travel restrictions, get your flu shot, wear a mask and social distance, among many other tips.
If you’re going to check into a hotel during Covid-19, Dr. Jessica Green, a founder in the field of indoor environmental microbiology and an internationally recognized scientist, and a professor at the University of Oregon and co-founder and CEO of Phylagen, a biotechnology company that recently released an indoor test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, offers advice.
- Ensure your room has been deep cleaned and empty for 24 hours before you arrive.
- Hotels should do a deep cleaning once a guest has left and then leave the room empty and well ventilated for 24 hours before a new guest arrives. The less contact the better – since sanitation is only one part of keeping us safe, reducing aerosol transmission is also just as important.
- Don’t get your room cleaned during your hotel stay.
- While disinfecting surfaces is important, a more significant travel risk is being infected by breathing in the aerosols of other people, such as hotel visitors, other travelers and employees.
- Limit person-to-person interactions.
- Companies need to limit contact between people, regardless if they are guests or staff. If you choose to get room service, have your food left outside your door so you don’t have anyone coming into your room.
- Look for a travel company that is transparent and committed to regularly COVID-19 testing.
- To keep everyone safe, travel companies should not only regularly provide human diagnostic testing of their employees, but also conduct regular indoor environmental surface testing to ensure their own safety and the safety of their visitors. Indoor environmental testing will help screen for asymptomatic cases of both guests but also employees, providing an additional layer of safety.
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