On March 10, 2020, HANYC had a call with representatives from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”). In discussing the comparison of COVID-19 to SARS, it was explained that while COVID-19 is less severe and less lethal than SARS, it is spreading more easily. As a result, the DOHMH expects a larger number of mild infections, which will increase the demand for testing and for treating more serious cases.
It is important to stress that COVID-19 is NOT airborne and is transmitted through droplets from close contact (usually within 6 feet) with an infected individual. The droplets must be directly transmitted to the eyes, nose or mouth. With respect to how long the virus remains active on hard surfaces, the estimates range from a few minutes to possibly days. However, it was stressed that the spread of COVID-19 through hard surfaces is not the concern because the primary form of transmission is through droplets.
Assuming that your staff and guests did not have close contact with an infected individual, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is low. Guest rooms and other areas should be cleaned in accordance with general disinfection guidance so that the risk of transmission will remain low. There is no need for staff to wear protective equipment beyond what is normally worn, e.g. gloves.
Masks are not required and are only recommended for people who are actually infected with COVID-19. Incoming travelers from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days to monitor symptoms, with the most concern for transmission if/when the individual is symptomatic.
To the DOHMH’s knowledge, there has been no instance of a hotel guest having to self-quarantine within a hotel. The DOHMH has its own quarantine site and, should such an instance arise, they would ask the individual to self-quarantine at that site.
In addition, we were provided with Factsheets, FAQs, Guidance and Safety Tips and a Stop the Spread Poster. While one of the factsheets is from the NYC Department of Small Business Services, we believe that the guidance is both relevant and helpful to our members.
Below are some helpful links from the CDC website.
Preventing COVID-19 Spread
About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)