Face Masks Shouldn’t Be an Option

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As the U.S. continues to see huge increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases and is now closing in on the 4 million mark, it’s clear some things aren’t working.  Part of it is that people simply aren’t following guidelines and are either not wearing masks or minding distancing – or both.  As a result, some states have mandated face masks in public, where distancing is not possible. 

Here’s the problem with that.  The language in many of these mandates is vague and leaves much up to individual discretion, which as we have seen in recent weeks is suspect, at best.  It also ignores that fact that unless absolutely necessary, people should simply not be putting themselves into situations where maintaining distance isn’t possible.  Frankly, I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for people to follow instructions on signs and markings in stores, which would certainly help.  But, maybe most importantly, why not be more explicit with the mandates?  Why not simply state that any time people are in a public space, they must wear masks.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen more retail shops require masks in their locations.  That’s good, but one has to wonder, shouldn’t they have been doing that all along?  Shouldn’t every business have implemented maximum safety protocols months ago and continued to enforce them throughout the pandemic?  I can tell you that, in a recent unavoidable trip to an area with a very low infection rate, I saw people wearing masks essentially anywhere outside of their homes.

It’s not just a question of safety.  It’s also a question of reassurance.  People want to get back to some of their normal activities, and the best way to encourage that is to have appropriate policies in place to promote safety.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association has finally seen the light.  Despite publishing employee guidelines some time ago, it has only recently published guidelines for guests.

AHLA Safe Stay Guest Checklist

  • Face coverings and distancing required in all indoor public spaces
  • Choose contactless options where possible
  • Consider daily room cleaning only if necessary
  • Request contactless room service
  • Refrain from traveling if ill

“We all must play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and encouraging the adoption of these guidelines is an important and meaningful step for us to take together.  This easy-to-follow checklist can help protect our guests, team members, and franchisees, as well as the countless communities in which we operate.”

Geoff Ballotti, President and CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

None of these are new ideas.  In fact, anyone with a bit of common sense will see they are the same things everyone should be practicing.  But, for an industry that has seen more than 70% of its employees laid off or furloughed and is projected to see a 50% revenue decline for the year, it’s critical to do everything possible to let patrons know their safety is top priority – and to follow through on that messaging.

AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers notes that, while the organization supports those governors who have mandated face coverings in indoor spaces, the requirement needs to become a national standard in order to maximize its impact and ensure people feel it’s safe to travel and stay in hotels. 

The AHLA membership list boasts more than 27,000 members, including 80% of all franchise hotels and the 10 largest hotel companies in the country. 

“As an industry, we want every guest to experience a clean and safe hotel no matter where they stay.  These preventative measures make it safer and easier for Americans to travel while also supporting hotel and tourism employees.”

Chip Rogers, President and CEO, AHLA

Despite the fact that travel is slow starting to resume, 60% of hotel rooms are currently unused, and with business travel not expected to fully rebound until 2022, it’s critical for consumers to have confidence in the health and safety protocols in their preferred hotels.

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