Ministry issues guidelines for hotel guests, employees

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Muscat: Transparent face masks for receptionists, hand sanitisers for guests, and keeping swimming pools and gyms closed until further notice are among the instructions provided to hotels by the Ministry of Tourism, as part of plans drawn up for them to welcome guests in the future.

The ministry has issued a guideline instructing hotel staff, guests and service providers on what they need to do to minimise the COVID-19 infection on hotel premises.

Explaining these instructions further, Mohammed Al Zadjali, the general manager for investor services and quality management at the Ministry of Tourism, said, “Preventive measures for the novel coronavirus in hotel establishments, coffee shops, and workers are linked to decisions made by several organisations, namely the Ministry of Tourism, Muscat Municipality, and the Ministry of Health.

“We sought approval from the Ministry of Health about the guidelines that these establishments must follow, and while the ministry agreed to the suggestions we’d make, they also added some more health provisions and requirements,” he added.

“Hotel establishments are under the administration of the Ministry of Tourism when it comes to technical operations, but the aspects related to health and safety within them are related to the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources or Muscat Municipality in the Governorate of Muscat, and Sohar Municipality in the Wilayat of Sohar,” explained Al Zadjali. “In the Dhofar governorate, this is the responsibility of Dhofar Municipality.”

As part of these guidelines, the guideline says that only four members of a family are allowed to use the elevator at one time, with plastic insulators to be placed on all of the elevator buttons. In narrow elevators, only two persons are to be admitted at one time. Once a guest has checked out of a room that room must also remain vacant for at least 24 hours so that it can be sanitised and cleaned before being given to another, once its hygiene level has been approved by hotel supervisors.

Kitchen workers must also adhere to the safety instructions provided to them, while companies that provide custodial and maintenance services to hotels must provide medical certificates to them, which state that their workers are free of COVID-19.

Guests are not allowed to be in their rooms while cleaning and maintenance services are ongoing. The instructions were issued to strike a balance between safety for workers and guests, and to once again expand the tourism sector, which has been sharply affected by the coronavirus.

The number of entrances to hotels must also be reduced, with masks, thermometers and sanitisers to be made readily and easily available.

Similarly, staff who man the front desks at hotels must wear a mask, a transparent face mask, and leave a two-metre gap between themselves and the customer. Valet parking services will also be restricted to those who are unable to park their vehicles due to disability, while all luggage and vehicles used by the hotel must also be sterilised. All pools, gyms, event halls and play areas in these hotels must continue to remain closed until further notice.

“90 percent of the hotel facilities are not functioning due to the measures which were taken to confront the effects of COVID-19,” explained Mohammed Al Zadjali. “Especially when it comes to swimming pools, gyms and other facilities in hotels, this depends on the plans of the Ministry of Health and the decline of the spread of COVID-19. The decision on these facilities will be taken by the ministry, as it is a member of the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19.”

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