With reopenings are well-underway and more hotels increasing their capacities in efforts to salvage a dreary summer season as well as a significant rise in vacation-hungry tourists, there has been one question on people's minds: could I get COVID-19 from my hotel stay?
In short, it largely depends on the precautions both you and the hotel take.
Ask and do your research before you take the leap. It's always best to call ahead to see how the place you’re considering is working to minimize the risk of COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests asking if the staff is wearing face coverings or masks, for example, and whether cleaning practices have been stepped up.
To reassure potential guests, many hotels – from luxury resorts to budget brands – are sharing the changes they’re making on their websites. New practices may include adding hand sanitizer stations in lobbies, disinfecting surfaces like elevator buttons more frequently and removing extra items in rooms, such as pens and paper. Breakfast buffets may also be replaced with prepackaged meals.
In Turkey, we have so far seen measures such as thermal cameras scanning guests' temperatures upon arrival, luggage being disinfected, floor markings inviting customers to respect social distancing, and all staff is required to wear protective visors and face masks.
In addition, open buffets have been suspended up to a point, in the way that restaurant staff will be serving customers and tables will be arranged to maintain the distance. TV and air-conditioner remotes have also been wrapped in disposable coverings, while pool capacities have been downgraded to prevent overcrowding. On the beach, sunbeds are spread equally across the sand guests are handed their towels in sanitary plastic bags.
The Turkish Tourism Ministry even launched a new scheme at the start of the season when it announced it would be awarding "safe tourism" certificates, based on a list of 132 criteria necessary to accommodate customers in proper sanitary conditions, to touristic establishments. To earn the COVID-19-safe label, hotels have to be strict in their implementations and must also set up a separate section to isolate tourists who test positive for COVID-19.
Once at a hotel, Dr. Albert Ko at the Yale School of Public Health says guests should continue to follow social distancing guidelines since the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Dine outside if possible, he says, and don’t crowd into elevators. Turkish hotels are currently allowing only one person per elevator unless guests can prove they are in the same traveling group or family.
The CDC also suggests taking the stairs when possible and minimizing the use of common areas.
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