The New Normal Hotels & Accommodation Establishments – Philippine Health & Safety Guidelines
The DOT (Department of Tourism) have released the New Normal for Hotels and Accommodation Establishments. The Guidelines have been updated with additional, supplementary measures for all Philippine Accommodation Establishments located in areas where a Community Quarantine is no longer in place.
Please also see our earlier article: COVID 19 Hospitality Industry Updates
Definitions used in the guidelines
“Accommodation Establishments” – establishments operating primarily for accommodation purposes; hotels, resorts, apartment hotels, tourist inns, motels, pension houses, private homes used for homestay, eco-lodges, serviced apartments, condotels, bed and breakfast facilities etc.
“Barangay Health Emergency Response Team” (BHERT) – the team established by DILG to help implement local prevention and mitigation, preparedness and response measures for COVID-19
“Community Quarantine” – the restriction of movement of people within, into, or out of an area of quarantine in order to reduce transmission of COVID-19
“Health Declaration Form” – A form that must be completed by people traveling which declares their current health condition and travel history for the past fourteen days.
“Minimum Public Health Standards” – DOH (Department of Health) Guidelines plus sector-relevant guidelines for non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI); public health measures that do not involve vaccines, medications, or other pharmaceutical interventions.
“New Normal” – new common or routine practices behaviors, situations and minimum public health standards which will remain while the disease is not totally eradicated through means such as widespread immunization (IATF Omnibus Guidelines).
“Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE) – clothing and accessories worn to minimize exposure e.g. protective clothing, masks, goggles,
“Physical/Social Distancing” – strict maintenance of a distance of at least one (1) meter between people
“Single Occupancy” – only one person shall be accommodated in each room no matter the size of the room.
Operations Under the New Normal Hotels
Section 5. Guest Handling Policy
Body temperature checking – Guests must have their body temperature checked at the hotel entrance. This must be done, using a thermal scanner, by trained hotel personnel or qualified health or medical staff. Only guests cleared during screening shall be allowed to enter the hotel to check-in.
Guests presenting with a fever and flu-like symptoms will not be allowed to enter the hotel and must be referred to a doctor, to the nearest hospital, or to the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT).
Guests allowed to enter the hotel must disinfect their shoes using the sanitizing mats provided at the hotel entrance.
A one meter distance floor marker between guests should be in place for queuing guests to ensure physical distancing.
Physical/Social Distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette must be observed when handling guests at the check-in counter.
Guests must complete a Health Declaration Form upon check in.
Online payment is encouraged upon booking.
Guests must be provided with appropriate information on COVID-19, as well as the policies enforced by the hotel/accommodation to reduce the risk and spread of the disease. Information on hand washing and respiratory etiquette, proper use of face mask, emergency contact numbers etc. must be provided to guests.
Guests must be informed of the health & safety management policies for room occupancy, dining, and use of public areas imposed to reduce risk of infection. Physical/Social distancing, face masks, proper hand washing / hand sanitizing practice must be emphasized.
Hotel staff are not to show guests around their room. Guests can be escorted to their room as long as staff follow strict observance of physical/social distancing and compliance with the health and safety protocols set by the DOH.
Guests must be issued with reminder cards. These may include the following:
- No sharing of food or any personal or non-personal belongings;
- Proper disposal of used PPE;
- No mingling with occupants of other rooms;
- Practice of proper hand washing etiquette/hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and proper use of face mask; and
- Strict observance of Physical/Social Distancing.
Section 6. Reception Counter and Concierge Under the New Normal Hotels
Official up-to-date information must be available at the reception desk about travel to and from local destinations and other countries, which have been identified by the Department of Health (DOH) as high-risk areas for COVID-19.
Reception must display or provide emergency contact numbers of public health authorities, the nearest hospital or medical center, and the DOH Assistance Center at the reception desk.
Hotels/Accommodation must have the following medical kit and PPE available at the reception counter or desk:
- Germicidal disinfectant or wipes for surface cleaning;
- Face mask or face shield;
- Biohazard disposable waste bag;
- 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Tissue paper, napkin, or paper towel; and
- Disposable gloves
Other PPE that can be available at the reception counter, for emergency purposes are as follows:
- Disposable protective apron
- Disposable protective shoe covers
- Full-length long-sleeved gown / protective clothing / coveralls
70% solution alcohol, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and tissue paper / paper towel must also be available at the concierge.
A floor marker that allows one (1) meter distance between guests on queuing must be in place to ensure physical distancing.
Acrylic glass barrier may be set up at the front desk for additional protection.
Contactless payment is highly encouraged.
Reception or Front Desk Officer
Reception desk staff or front desk officers must receive regular briefings and information on current, and updated, health crisis and security and safety measures.
Front desk personnel must wear face masks when dealing with guests and disposable gloves must be used when handling cash or documents, and/or materials that are passed from person to person.
A contactless process at the front desk is highly encouraged.
Physical Distancing, hand cleaning, and respiratory etiquette must be strictly observed.
Front desk personnel must be familiar with the room occupancy policy for accompanying persons in the event of a suspected case.
All staff providing guest assistance which requires physical contact (e.g. wheelchair, bell service) must wear proper PPE, such as face mask and gloves, whenever necessary.
The Filipino Brand of Service (FBS), or the “Mabuhay Gesture”, should be used when greeting and receiving guests. Hand-shaking is not advised.
Section 7. Rooms and Housekeeping Under the New Normal Hotels
Only single or double room occupancy bookings are allowed. Couples or family members who share the same household may be allowed in double or twin occupancy rooms. A distance of 1 to 2 meters between the beds is recommended.
Room transfers are allowed but only when necessary.
A Sanitation Kit should be provided for each guest staying in the room. This should include 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, face masks, disposable gloves, and rags.
Bathroom amenities must be regularly provided for each guest.
Trash bins must be provided inside the guest room. There must be a separate trash bag, or bin, for used PPE such as face mask, gloves and other sanitation waste materials in each room.
Rooms must be set up to allow convenient in-room dining for guests.
Room turndown service is highly discouraged.
Housekeeping staff should be trained in the proper use of disinfectants or sanitizing solutions and provided with appropriate PPE such as face masks, gloves, disposable gown/ coverall and closed shoes.
Housekeeping staff must use PPE such as disposable gloves, eye protection gear (goggles) and face masks, when cleaning guest rooms and other common areas.
When cleaning rooms used by a suspected infected person, housekeeping staff must use additional protective equipment, such as disposable or washable coverall and protective shoe covers in accordance with DOH guidelines for disinfection processes.
Used PPE must be removed and disposed of, or washed using standard disinfection control measures in accordance with the guidelines issued by DOH.
After routine disinfection and decontamination of a guestroom, housekeeping staff must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers as recommended by DOH.
Where staff are cleaning surfaces which can result in splashing, they must use facial protection or a face shield, and waterproof aprons.
Housekeeping staff must change work clothes before going home. Proper handling of work clothes in the establishment must be in place.
Frequent sanitation of high-touched surfaces in guestrooms and public areas using the prescribed sanitizing solutions by the DOH or WHO must be conducted.
3. Room Decontamination
Room occupancy per floor should be established taking into consideration proper spacing and Physical Distancing.
The hotel/accommodation must ensure prompt action is taken to clean rooms after each use of guest/s. It must be a standard procedure to sanitize rooms immediately after check-out. Disinfection of rooms and surfaces must be conducted every time including disinfection of furniture, appliances, flooring, and panes using bleach solution or any approved disinfecting agent.
Before accepting a new guest or occupant, rooms must remain empty for a certain period, depending on the disinfecting technology or materials being used.
Thorough disinfection of rooms and common areas using enhanced technologies, such as electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectants, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or germicidal ultra-violet (UV) lighting system, must be carried out at least once every two weeks.
Providing minibars and other complimentary in-room food and beverages, except bottled water, are highly discouraged.
5. Linen Decontamination Procedure in accordance with DOH Guidelines
Used linen and other washable items must be handled as little, and as carefully as possible to prevent possible contamination of the handler or the environment.
In-house laundry, linen and other washable items must be soaked using appropriate disinfecting solution for at least fifteen minutes.
If the room was used by a suspected infected person, all washable items such as bed sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and towels must be placed in a separate disposal bag and washed separately using hot water (70-80ºC).
Non-washable items including mattresses and pillows must be wiped with diluted bleach solution or any approved disinfecting agent.
Disposable gloves and mask must be used when handling and segregating soiled linen to appropriately designed bins. Used bins must be sanitized after every use.
All items for disposal must be disposed in sealed bags immediately.
Section 8. Food and Beverage (F&B) Service Under the New Normal Hotels
Guests must be reminded to disinfect their hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or 70% solution alcohol located at the reception counter upon entering and leaving the vicinity.
All food and beverages must be served by restaurant crew or personnel. A self-service station set up for guests at the dining area is highly discouraged.
Buffet services and room service is highly discouraged. A grab-and-go station (where guests can pick-up their breakfast or ordered food) must be made available. Grab-and-go stations must be sanitized regularly every after use.
Serving of individually-packed meals using biodegradable packaging is encouraged.
Banquet tables that can usually accommodate ten guests must accommodate only five guests. Tables shall be arranged such that the distance from the back of one chair to the back of another chair shall be more than 1 meter apart and the guests face each other from a distance of at least 1 meter.
Function venues must be disinfected during break time or after every meeting or event.
Function venues must have limited capacities to ensure physical distancing.
Restaurants and other dining facilities must be mindful of the direction of the airflow in arranging tables to avoid droplet transmission prompted by air-conditioned ventilation.
Section 9. Kitchen Sanitation and Disinfection Under the New Normal Hotels
A separate hand washing area for kitchen staff must be provided or installed. Kitchen staff should wash hands (including fingernails) up to the forearms thoroughly with warm water and soap as often as necessary.
Kitchen staff must be provided with PPE such as face masks, disposable gloves, hairnets, clean overalls, and slip reduction work shoes.
Kitchen staff must wear face shields when handling food. Hands and exposed portions of arms must be washed before any food preparation or packaging. Food handlers must use proper PPE to avoid contamination.
Use of bare hands must be minimized by using utensils, gloves, or tongs especially when preparing or packing ready-to-eat foods.
Kitchen staff must ensure that clean and sanitized cloths, towels, linens, aprons, and mop heads are used at appropriate intervals during the work period.
All dishes, silverware and glassware must be washed and disinfected, including items that have not been used, as they might have been in contact with the hands of the guest or staff.
Kitchen surfaces must be properly cleaned and sanitized after every use.
All food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils must be washed, sanitized and rinsed before each use to avoid contamination.
All food and equipment storage areas must be kept free of rodents and insects to prevent contamination.
Food must be protected from dirt, pests, unnecessary handling, droplet contamination, overhead leakage, or other environmental sources of contamination.
Section 10. Public Areas Under the New Normal Hotels
Sanitizing mats must be available at all entry points.
Cleaning and disinfection measures in common areas (e.g. lobby, restrooms, halls, corridors, elevators, etc.) must be applied as a general preventive measure. Special attention must be given to objects that are frequently touched such as elevator button, handles, handrails, switches, doorknobs, kitchen surfaces etc.
Physical Distancing must be strictly observed when using elevators. Only 50% of the maximum capacity is recommended to avoid physical contact. Placing of floor markers to delineate physical distancing is encouraged.
All general facilities and all furnishings must be cleaned, disinfected, and wiped at least once daily.
Sanitation stations must be set up within the workplace and areas frequented by customers and guests.
Trash bins must be available and accessible in all areas of the establishment. These must be sanitized every after disposal or trash collection.
Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials on proper hand washing, respiratory etiquette, and proper use of face mask must be posted in conspicuous areas, particularly at the restrooms and other wash areas.
Placement of signs reminding guests and general public to minimize touching of surfaces in public areas is highly recommended.
2. Toilets and Restrooms
Adequate supply of soaps, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels in the restrooms must be ensured.
Hand-washing and toilet flushing facilities must be functional at all times, including adequate supply of clean water.
Toilets and restrooms must be cleaned and sanitized regularly every two (2) hours.
3. Recreational Areas
Recreational areas or facilities such as gym and wellness centers, children’s areas, sports facilities, swimming pool, etc. may be allowed to operate but with strict observance of DOH prescribed Minimum Public Health Standards. In any case, special cleaning and disinfection protocols should be applied to these facilities.
Section 11. Hotel Transport Service Under the New Normal
Standard passenger capacity of each type of vehicle will be decreased or reduced by 50% or one seat apart.
Hotel transport vehicles must comply with the Social Distancing and Passenger Limit Guidelines set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to avoid possible contact:
- Car / Sedan – No passenger seated beside the driver. Two passengers at the back row with one seat apart. No more than three passengers, including the driver.
- Vans – Only two passengers per row are allowed. A waterproof transparent barrier between the driver and the passengers must be installed.
- Buses and coasters – A waterproof transparent barrier between the driver and the passengers must be installed. Passengers are not allowed to stand while vehicle is moving. The driver are required to use proper PPE for protection
Hotel service vehicle amenities must include basic first-aid and sanitation kits, which includes face mask, gloves, 70% solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissue paper, and disposable wet wipes instead of wet and warm towels.
Hotel transport vehicles must be sanitized and disinfected after every use.
The service vehicle must have a separate trash bag for all used gloves, face masks, PPE, wet wipes and other sanitation items for disposal used by the passengers.
The driver of the service vehicle must practice proper hand washing and wearing of face mask, gloves and other applicable protective equipment to prevent contamination.
The driver of the service vehicle must remove and dispose the worn gloves and other items that might have been contaminated before entering the vehicle.
The trash bag should be disposed immediately upon arrival at the destination until return to point of origin. Proper disposal procedures of the trash bag should be strictly implemented.
Section 12. Engineering and Maintenance Services Under the New Normal Hotels
All dish-washing and laundry equipment must be maintained in good working condition at all times.
The condition of the filters must be regularly monitored and the proper replacement rate of indoor air must be maintained. If possible, external windows are kept open to allow natural ventilation, or the Mechanical Ventilation and Air Conditioning System (MVAC) be adjusted to improve indoor ventilation.
The proper functioning of ventilation, air exchange, and dehumidification equipment of covered pools must be checked at least three (3) times a week.
Liquid soap and disinfectant solution dispensers, hand dryers, disposable tissue dispensers, and other similar devices must be properly maintained.
Engineering and Maintenance Department must ensure that all kitchen equipment (freezers, chillers, dish-washing machines, etc.), and air-conditioning units are in good working condition.
Section 13. Business Practices and Management Under the New Normal
The management team shall adopt the following protective measures in response to the threat of any infectious diseases that can cause negative impact to the tourism industry:
Development of an Integrated Emergency Preparedness Action Plan (IEPAP) in accordance with the recommendations of local and national public health authorities with the aim to prevent, effectively manage cases, and mitigate impact among clients and staff.
IEPAP shall include the following:
(a) Occupational Safety and Health Program;
(b) Disaster Risk and Management Plan;
(c) Food Safety Program; and
(d) Business Continuity Plan
Ensuring that there is sufficient human and economic capital to implement the action plan. Provision of equipment and procedures, developed in collaboration with local authorities for the management of suspected cases and their possible contacts must also be included.
Supervision and monitoring of the progress of the implementation of the action plan in order to assess its impact, verify compliance, identify potential gaps and apply corrective measures to ensure its effectiveness.
Conduct of regular updates and meetings to discuss the progress of IEPAP.
Ensuring that all relevant policies are properly cascaded across all concerned managers, employees and staff, as well as guests and clients to ensure alignment and consistency of communication. Further, up-to-date information on safety protocols must be properly disseminated to avoid the spread of the virus or disease.
Designation of a Hygiene and Safety Manager to take charge of the sanitation and hygiene maintenance in the establishment may be considered.
Employment of trained health or medical staff, complete with emergency kit and equipment, to provide immediate assistance whenever necessary.
Investment in health plans for all managers, employers and staff. Health plans can be in the form of any of the following:
(a) Health Insurance Policy;
(b) Health Card Subscription;
(c) Trust Fund or Emergency Fund; or
(d) Health and Wellness Programs.
2. Human Resource Management.
To prepare and support staff during the New Normal, management must:
Review establishment’s policies on:
(a) Flexible sick leave policies (e.g. sick leave filed due to imposed quarantine measures shall not be deducted to allotted number of sick leaves annually);
(b) Continuing training and orientation of staff (cross-training of staff and personnel).
Maintain an updated list of contact details of each member of the hotel crew or staff.
Review attendance records and reports of staff’s illness/es at the start of each day, and determine if there is a pattern of absences.
Encourage staff and personnel to stay home when he or she is sick.
Provide medical consultation benefits, mental and psychological support such as but not limited to in-house or online counselling session, and support group to its employees.
Promote of work-life balance through proper scheduling of activities and rotation of workforce.
Provide temporary accommodations and shuttle service for employees and staff, if necessary.
Provide designated changing rooms for employees and staff.
Train staff on personal hygiene, infection control and surface disinfection.
Consider redesigning of uniforms of hotel staff, especially those attending to guests to ensure full protection.
Conduct periodic meetings on health, safety, and protection protocols.
Section 14. Suppliers of Goods and Services Under the New Normal Hotels
Contractors and suppliers of goods and services must follow safe systems of work. They must also have systems in place for the prevention of the spread of any virus and diseases such as wearing of gloves and face masks.
All items coming in the establishment must be sanitized.
New and enhanced procedure on cleaning and sanitizing grocery items including perishable produce such as fruits and vegetables must be applied.
All delivery vehicles, including those used by event suppliers, must undergo thorough disinfection procedure.
All deliveries must be checked before entering the establishment. Items that show signs of pest infestation or contamination must not be accepted.
Drivers or delivery personnel must adhere to proper sanitation procedure.
Contactless delivery is encouraged as a preventive measure to contain the spread of disease or virus.
Section 15. Management of Symptomatic Guests Under the New Normal
Create a holding area for symptomatic guests with a travel history from identified countries with high cases prior to transport to hospital. Holding area must conform to DOH standards.
Immediately refer guests with fever (> 38 C) and/or cough, and have a history of travel to identified high risk countries or localities within the Philippines, to the nearest hospital.
Assure guests of assistance in case they begin to manifest symptoms such as fever and/or cough.
Keep the symptomatic guest confined in the room originally used until trained transport providers are available to transport him or her to designated referral hospital.
Coordinate with the referral hospital for necessary transportation of symptomatic guest/s.
Screen existing guests, well or sick, for fever and/or cough, and travel history using the health checklist provided by DOH.
Immediately inform the doctor on duty or the emergency response team for assistance for coordination to the referral hospital or the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) for assessment if any staff is concerned about the condition of a guest, or if a guest request access to medical services.
Staff and personnel shall avoid employing any discriminatory action against any sick person with high fever and cough for fear of contracting or spreading the disease.
Section 16. Notification and Referral Under the New Normal
Following DOH Guidelines, Accommodation Establishments must:
- Record and analyze guest lists for persons coming from countries that have reported confirmed cases of the current disease.
- Ensure confidentiality in reporting of individuals both hotel staff and guests within the hotel or lodging establishment with flu-like symptoms and/or fever and travel history to affected areas.
All staff and guests who show symptoms consistent with the disease and had travel history to high-risk areas or had close contact with a caregiver of suspected or with a confirmed case, must immediately notify their respective BHERT.
Section 17. Report Requirements Under the New Normal
Number of guests who have developed the symptoms of the illness, if any; and
Number of guests who were transferred to the appropriate facility, if any.