IWBI Launches Health-Safety Seal to Certify Businesses for COVID-19 Protocols

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After nearly three months of isolation – working and schooling from home, avoiding social engagements, limited shopping, cancelled trips, etc. – most people are understandably anxious for things to move make towards some level of normalcy.  The question is, when will a majority of people feel it’s reasonably safe to start traveling and gather in larger groups? 

There are three parts to the answer.  The first, of course, is a proven and available vaccine, but most experts are hopeful that will happen next year. 

The second is businesses, including the travel and hospitality sector – should be evaluating the various technologies that are being developed to help them safely re-open.  There are a broad range of sanitizing, distancing, temperature monitoring, contact tracing, health assessment and other solution out there already, and no doubt we’ll see even more in the coming weeks and months.

The third is letting customers know – and just telling them may not be enough.  Given how rapidly COVID-19 spread, and the uncertainties that remain, some level of certification or approval may be needed, especially in some verticals, like hospitality.  Many people will likely question for some time whether it’s safe for them to travel and take vacations.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) believes an independent third-party evaluation of newly implemented health and safety protocols is necessary to quickly revitalize the hospitality industry.  To drive the process, it has established the WELL Advisory for Hotels and Resorts to provide insights on the application of the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facilities Operations and Management for hotels and resorts. The WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating focused on operational policies, maintenance protocols and emergency plans to address a post COVID-19 environment.

“Hotels and resorts are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.  The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a mark that signals to guests and employees that evidence-based protocols grounded in science have been both adopted and verified with third-party document review.”

Rachel Gutter, President, IWBI

In developing the program, IWBI considered COVID-19 guidance and best practices from CDC, WHO, HHS, NIH, OSAH, and other organizations and academic and research institutions, along with its own previously established principles.  The organization also used insights provided by its own COVID-19 Task Force.

In order to participate, businesses will need to submit proof of policies, protocols, and plans for annual review and verification.  Upon approval, organizations will receive a WELL Health-Safety Rating and accompanying seal it can display at its physical and digital properties.

“The hospitality industry has taken great steps to establish guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the centralization of best practices across many disciplines.  This is an opportunity for property owners and operators to extend their work with third-party documentation review, which is a critical step in verifying the adoption of these practices.”

Michael Dominguez, CEO, Association of Luxury Hotels International

The WELL Health-Safety Rating will be applied across several industries that have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, including:

  • Sports & entertainment
  • Movie theaters
  • Hotels & resorts
  • Offices
  • Restaurants
  • Education
  • Retail
  • Industrial

Consumers have already expressed a reluctance to travel and stay in hotels very quickly – many believe 6-12 months is a likely time frame.  A formal certification and seal of approval can only help hotels, resorts, and just about any other business emerge from this crisis and attract customers back to their properties.  If given the choice between staying in a hotel with a COVID-19 certification and one without, it’s reasonable to think the former will have a distinct advantage.