The COVID-19 situation is having a significant impact on hotels and the people who work in them.  The AHLA is committed to supporting all Alberta hotels and ensuring they have the information they need to help them make sound decisions for their staff and their business.

The AHLA will update this page as information becomes available.  Please check back regularly.

Recommended Procedures for Hotels with Self-Isolating Guests

Some Alberta hotels have been receiving bookings for guests that need to self-isolate. Following are some recommended procedures, as well as information for self-isolating guests:

Exposure/Potential Exposure to COVID-19

What should I do if an employee informs me they have been exposed to COVID-19?
If an employee is concerned they may have come into direct contact with an individual with COVID-19, they should monitor their own health. If they develop symptoms of COVID-19 (fever over 38 degrees, cough, respiratory issues), employers should instruct the employee not to come to work, to self isolate, and to visit Alberta Health Services’ Self-Assessment Tool for further guidance.

What should I do if an employee develops symptoms of COVID-19?
Make sure employees know they should report respiratory illness to their employer. If they develop symptoms, they should self-isolate at home for at least 10 days following the onset of cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath — or longer if symptoms persist. They should also:

Can an employer require an employee to advise if:

  • they have been diagnosed with COVID-19; or
  • they have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19; or
  • they have travelled recently to an affected area?

In the present circumstances it is reasonable to require disclosure due the risk of transmission. The Government of Canada routinely posts travel notices, categorizing the risk factor of areas outside of Canada. Employers and employees are encouraged to check this site regularly. Attendance at large gatherings is also discouraged and should be monitored.

Employers should ensure any medical information about an employee is kept in a secure location. It may be necessary to advise other employees there has been a case of COVID-19 confirmed in the workplace. However, any disclosure should avoid identifying information and be limited to the extent it is necessary to take precautions to protect health and safety.

Does a hotel have a duty to notify employees of quarantined or self-isolating guests?
A hotel does not have a legal duty to notify employees of a quarantined or self-isolating guest in the hotel, provided adequate measures are taken to ensure the guest’s presence doesn’t pose a risk to health & safety in the workplace. However, hotels should consider proactive disclosure to employees, as this can limit the spread of misinformation and ease employee concerns.

The notification can include:

  • Information about how the quarantine came to pass (i.e., by order under the Quarantine Act)
  • Anticipated length of the quarantine
  • Safety measures taken by the hotel (and public health authorities) to ensure the safety of employees and guests
  • Who to speak to if an employee has questions

Should employees remain at least six feet apart while on a jobsite?
Hotels should make their best efforts to abide by Alberta Health Services’ recommendations regarding social distancing and hygiene. Employers may consider:

  • Staggering shift start and end times, breaks, and meal times.
  • Regularly cleaning & disinfecting lunch and break areas
  • Limiting the number of workers in one area at a time, if possible

How should I handle staff living in facility-provided housing?
Develop plans regarding isolation areas for ill individuals. If staff need to be isolated, they should be provided a separate room and
bathroom where possible. For more information, see the Government of Alberta’s Self-Isolation Information Sheet.

Can an employee refuse work because of a fear of contracting COVID-19?
Hotel employees have the right to refuse to perform work if they hold a bona fide belief a “physical condition” in the workplace constitutes a risk to their health or safety. Generally, this involves concern over equipment or machinery. However, it is possible “physical condition” may also include concern for the spread of a serious illness such as COVID-19.

Reporting Cases of COVID-19

Must an employer report a suspected case of COVID-19 in an employee to Public Health?
An employer is not legally required to report a suspected case of COVID-19 to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Such an obligation will fall to the medical practitioner treating the patient.

Must an employer report a case of COVID-19 in an employee to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Alberta?
If your worker is at greater risk than the general public of contracting the virus while at work, and they lose time from work after contracting the virus, report the claim to WCB. However, if your staff is NOT at greater risk than the general public of contracting the infection, you do not need to report.

Do I report cases where one staff member caught COVID-19 from a co-worker to WCB?
No. Coronaviruses like COVID-19 can be caught through contacts in the community, home, or work.

What happens when I submit a COVID-19 claim to WCB?
Like any other claim, WCB-Alberta must determine whether exposure to the disease arose out of the course of employment and was caused by an employment hazard (in this case, workplace exposure to the virus). If the illness meets the conditions for coverage, WCB-Alberta will cover medical aid costs and any time lost as a result of the condition.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Should my staff wear masks?
There is currently no information to support the wearing of masks (especially N95) outside of healthcare industries.  Social distancing, along with proper hygiene (i.e., washing your hands), is the best way to reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection. The Government of Canada recommends:

  • If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.
  • However, your health care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while you are seeking or waiting for care.

Should my staff wear gloves?
Staff should wear gloves if there is the potential for them to be exposed to an infected individual or contaminated items. Ensure staff know the correct procedure for glove removal and disposal (we also recommend that you print this poster off and post in your housekeeping and laundry areas). Wash hands immediately after gloves are removed.

Cleaning Products

What is the difference between cleaning & disinfection?
Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt, grime, and impurities. Cleaning does not kill germs, but helps remove them from the surface. Disinfecting refers to using chemical to kill germs on surfaces. This is most effective after surfaces are cleaned. Both steps are important to reduce the spread of infection.

How do I know if my cleaning products will kill the COVID-19 virus?
Use a disinfectant that has a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and a virucidal claim. You can also review cleaning & disinfection products and procedures with vendors to ensure the products you use are adequate. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to disinfect effectively and take appropriate precautions when using chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting. Consult the products’ Safety Data Sheets. Alternatively, Health Canada recommends you can prepare a bleach water solution with 100 ml of unscented household bleach per 900 ml of water.

Which cleaning products should not be mixed?
In general, do not mix cleaning agents and disinfectants together or use multiple disinfectants together. Mixing the following cleaning products can have dangerous results, just to name a few examples:

  • Bleach + Vinegar: Produces chlorine gas, which can cause coughing, breathing problems, burning, and watery eyes.
  • Bleach + Ammonia: Produces chloramine, a toxic gas that causes shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Bleach + Rubbing Alcohol: Produces chloroform, a highly toxic chemical.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar: Produces peracetic/peroxyacetic acid, which is highly corrosive.

Click here or on the image on the right to print a poster to hang up at your property.

Cleaning & Disinfection Procedures

What changes should our property make to our cleaning & disinfection procedures to manage the COVID-19 situation?

  • Increase daily cleaning and disinfection of common areas and surfaces.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning & disinfection of high-traffic areas and high-use items such as menus, handrails, elevator buttons, Video Lottery Terminals, PIN pads, keyboards, counters, and pens.
  • Place hand sanitizer stations in high traffic areas.
  • Review cleaning & disinfection and disposable glove procedures with all staff, not just those in the Housekeeping department.

A poster is available on the Government of Canada website to help your staff understand how to clean & disinfect public spaces.

How do we clean & disinfect laundry that may be contaminated with COVID-19?
Alberta Health Services recommends:

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry and discard after each use. Wash hands thoroughly immediately after gloves are removed.
  • If possible, do not shake laundry (minimizes possibility of dispersing virus through the air).
  • Launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance for environmental cleaning; consider using a bag liner than is disposable or a liner that can be laundered.
  • Launder any removable cloth/plush items.
  • Steam cleaning can be used for areas that are likely to be contaminated but cannot be laundered (plush chairs).

How do we clean & disinfect dishes that may be contaminated with COVID-19?
Alberta Health Services recommends:

  • Wash dishes thoroughly with soap and water,
  • Place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or
  • Wash in the washing machine.

Read Alberta Health Services’ Dishwashing Requirements for guidelines to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization.

If you have further questions about PPE, cleaning & disinfecting, or health & safety, please email Erica Blewett, Health & Safety Advisor.

Recommendations for Food Establishments

Staff who are handling food should follow all basic hygiene recommendations (e.g., wash hands often), but should be especially diligent when handling food and beverages. Alberta Health Services has created a printable poster with guidelines for food establishments that all food-handling staff should read, and which you can display in all food handling areas.

Currently prohibited in Alberta:

  • Buffets
  • All dine-in services
  • Albertans are prohibited from attending bars and nightclubs, where law prohibits minors

Still permitted:

  • Take-out, delivery and drive-through services
  • Restaurants in a food court may stay open for take-out only (no seating)
  • Licensed facilities are permitted to deliver liquor (Government of Alberta PDF download)
  • Not-for-profit community kitchens, soup kitchens & religious kitchens are exempt at this time, but risk mitigation strategies must be followed

Please contact Tracy Douglas-Blowers, Director of Membership & Industry Relations, at tdblowers@ahla.ca or 780.423.9227 if you have other questions or need additional support.