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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:
- Recommended procedures for hotels with self-isolating guests– for internal hotel use
- Information for self-isolating guests (Word doc download)- to give to guests
- Information for self-isolating guests (PDF download with AHLA logo)- to give to guests
- Self-Isolation Information Sheet (Government of Alberta)
Staff 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 until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer. They should also:
- visit Alberta Health Services’ Self-Assessment Tool for further guidance
- contact 811 if requiring further health advice
- call 911 if there is an emergency
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
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.
Minimizing Risk of Exposure to COVID-19
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.
How can my hotel minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19?
Suggested ideas include:
- Front Desk:
- Install physical barriers, such as cubicles, partitions, or windows to separate staff and guests. A table could also be placed in front of the front desk to keep guests from getting too close to front desk employees (Read more on designing effective barriers)
- Place reference markers (e.g., markings on the floor) that set out two-metre distances
- Consider alternatives to a paper check-in, such as:
- Encouraging online check-ins
- Having guests fill out their information on a tablet instead of paper, and disinfect the tablet after use
- Ensuring the credit card reader is positioned so guests can swipe their cards themselves, and consider bypassing guest signatures
- Consider “curbside” check ins, rather that having guests come to the front desk
- At the end of each shift, clean and disinfect any items used by staff (e.g., computers, photocopier, telephones, etc.)
- Require all personal communication devices (e.g., phones & walkie-talkies) to be disinfected at the start and end of each shift
- Direct employees to regularly disinfect their workspaces (e.g., computers, housekeeping carts, vacuums, etc.)
- Hotel Amenities & Services:
- Consider closing the guest business centre, or if this it not feasible, disinfect computer keyboards after each use
- Consider closing pools, hot tubs, spas, and fitness centres
- Consider discontinuing hotel shuttles and courtesy vehicles, and consider reimbursing guests for taxi or ride-sharing expenses
- Guest Rooms:
- Remove non-essential items from guest rooms, such as flowers, notepads, pens, hotel services advertisements, coffee table books, menus, etc.
- Remove guest room decorative throw pillows and bed scarves
- Reduce bed pillows to two per bed
- Consider not providing full housekeeping for any guests at this time. You may want to consider following housekeeping procedures recommended in Recommended Procedures for Hotels with Self-Isolating Guests
- No employees should enter the room of a guest who is self isolating or who has COVID-19 symptoms
- Accepting Packages, Supply Orders, & Mail:
- Pre-pay or pay online for orders
- Ask delivery workers to drop off orders outside
- Wear gloves when collecting mail and accepting packages. Dispose of them using proper glove removal and disposal method after each delivery or mail pick-up, and wash hands thoroughly
- Remove and dispose of envelopes and packaging outside
- Disinfect products as much as possible before bringing them inside
- Disinfect any surfaces that may have been touched during the delivery (e.g., door handles, pens, elevator buttons, etc.)
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.
What should my hotel do about hazards that cannot be completely eliminated?
According to the Government of Alberta, the following hierarchy of controls are required:
- First choice: Engineering controls
These control the hazard at the source. Examples include placing barriers or partitions between staff and the hazard, or ventilation.
- Second choice: Administrative controls
These controls change the way staff and guests interact with each other and amongst themselves. Examples include policies for physical distancing, limiting hours of operations, and respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
- Third choice: PPE
PPE is generally only necessary when hazards related to COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated by administrative and engineering controls. PPE controls the hazard at the staff or guest level. Examples of PPE include gloves, eye protection, face protections and masks.
When a hazard cannot be controlled by a single control method, a hotelier may insist that a combination of these controls take place to provide an acceptable level of safety.
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 20 ml of unscented household bleach per 1,000 ml of water. (Please note: This is a different proportion than we had mentioned previously. Please change your cleaning procedure accordingly.)
Health Canada has approved several hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers for use against COVID-19. Use these lists to look up the DIN number of the product you are using or to find an approved product. Make sure to follow instructions on the product label to disinfect effectively.
Alberta Health Services has information about products to use to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces and equipment.
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 by creating a cleaning and maintaining a cleaning schedule or log.
- 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.
- Use a “wipe-twice” method to clean and disinfect. Wipe surfaces with a cleaning agent to clean off soil and wipe again with a disinfectant.
- Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch/shared surfaces such as:
- Doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, faucets and taps, elevator buttons, railings, thermostats.
- Phones, computers, remote controls, keyboards, desktops, conference room equipment, cash registers, surface counters, customer service counters, menus, PIN pads.
- Equipment handles, hand tools, machinery control panels, seat belt buckles, joysticks, steering wheels and controls on powered mobile equipment, VLTs.
- Staff rooms, kitchens, washrooms.
- Disposable towels and spray cleaners, or disposable wipes, should be available to staff and guests (as necessary) to regularly clean commonly used surfaces.
- Remove all communal items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as newspapers, magazines, and stuffed toys.
- Deep clean carpeted floors as often as possible, using a steam cleaner or carpet shampoo.
- Disinfect cleaning equipment such as toilet brushes, vacuum cleaners, buckets, brooms, and mop handles every day.
A poster is available on the Government of Canada website to help your staff understand how to clean & disinfect public spaces.
A thorough guide to cleaning & disinfecting each area of your property can be found on the Ecolab website (pdf download).
How do we clean & disinfect laundry that may be contaminated with COVID-19?
Alberta Health Services and other sources recommend:
- 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).
- If possible, discard all dirty cleaning cloths/rags once used. If you choose to retain these items, wash them after each use, separately from towels or other linens, in the hottest water possible. Once washed, immediately place in the dryer and dry completely.
- Disinfect laundry facilities at the end of each work day, including laundry carts/bins, baskets, washers, dryers, sinks, tables, shelving, flooring, and all other surfaces.
- Do not take food or beverages into the laundry area.
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
Currently, the following regulations apply to gatherings in Alberta:
- Gatherings of more than 15 people are prohibited.
- 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.
- Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars must operate at no more than 50% seating capacity. Outdoor patio seating areas must also be at 50% capacity or less.
- Arrange tables and chairs so that a two-metre distance is maintained between each dining party.
- Aisles should be wide enough to allow room for people to maintain physical distancing. Consider using one-way traffic flow help maintain distancing.
- Physical barriers should be installed where tables cannot be adequately separated. For example, heighten barriers between adjoined booths.
- Businesses should facilitate ways to prevent infection transmission, such as:
- The use of dividers between booths or tables
- Setting limits on the number of patrons per table, based on size. A maximum number of patrons sitting together at larger tables should be six.
- Removing chairs.
- Remove table condiments and other frequently touched items (for example, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup, hot sauce).
- Consider keeping music to a low volume to help customers avoid leaning in to hear each another.
Entry and Waiting Areas
- Control access to the dining area by asking guests to wait to be seated.
- Ensure that customers have space to maintain physical distancing in waiting areas.
- Encourage table reservations to prevent lineups.
- Where possible, ask guests to wait outside until their table is ready, and use technology to provide notice that a table is ready.
- Encourage guests to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when entering and leaving.
- To maintain awareness, post COVID-19 signage throughout the facility.
- Washroom capacity must allow for distancing between guests. For example, consider closing alternate urinals.
- Thoroughly sanitize each table after customers leave.
- Washroom sanitation and supervision should be enhanced.
- Staff should perform hand hygiene frequently.
- All dining must be table service only.
- Wait staff and servers who cannot be protected by two metres of distance or a physical barrier must wear a cloth or surgical mask.
- Digital ordering devices, check presenters, and other common touch areas must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after use.
- Where reusable menus are used, thoroughly clean and sanitize between clients. Paper menus must be discarded after use.
- Use rolled silverware and do not preset tables. The person performing this task must follow hand hygiene practices.
- There can be no buffet service or self-service.
- Breakfast may be offered as “grab & go.” Consider offering additional “grab & go” offerings at this time. Breakfast or any food offerings should be individually wrapped and single serve items only.
- Packaged items should be cleaned and disinfected before being made available.
- Guests should not be allowed to touch the options, including coffee/tea. An attendant should serve all items while wearing gloves.
- Guests dining inside the restaurant must order food and drinks from the table.
- Continue to follow existing occupational health and safety (OHS) requirements
Quick Service and Take Out
- Demarcate floors with physical distancing markers in areas where lineups occur. Keep lineups away from dining areas.
- Provide signage and guidance to guests regarding ordering and mobile orders.
- Facilities are open for dining, delivery, and take out only. Recreational activities within bars, cafés, or pubs are not allowed at this time. This includes dancing on dance floors, VLT play, billiards, pool tables, karaoke, shisha, hookah and water pipes, and other activities.