Re-opening After COVID-19

As people express the desire to get out of their homes and back into your business, it’s important to be prepared to welcome guests safely and to ensure you, your employees, and your customers are safe.

We highly recommend all those part of the Hospitality industry – lodging, dining, attractions, retail, entertainment, and transportation- take time to look over US Travel’s guide:
Travel in the New Normal: Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travelers.

As of June 26, face coverings are required in all NC public spaces. See FAQs and details here.

Get a printable version of this sign for your business here, or pick up a copy at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Social distancing, hand washing, and protective measures will continue to be important. Customers, residents, and employees will all need to continue the Three Ws:

Get this sign from NC Department of Health and Human Services for businesses here.

Partner Toolkit- Lodging

Phased Re-opening

With the updated guidelines for phased re-opening in Watauga County, Blowing Rock lodging may open for leisure stays as of May 22.

Currently, there is to be a 50% reduction in listed maximum occupancy capacity as rated and published. Note that this is based on total capacity, not occupancy rate as related to number of rooms. Exceptions are allowed for families staying in single rentals (a cabin that sleeps 8 does not have to reduce group sizes to 4 as long as the group is a single cohabiting family).

All restrictions on lodging will be lifted during Phase 3 of the Watauga County plan. Adjustments were made to the Watauga County phased plan on May 19.

See details on the May 19 Watauga County Commissioners meeting here.

Making a Plan

Develop a written plan for yourself and your employees.
Explain the importance of the new procedures, and allow staff to ask questions to make sure they understand it fully.
Implement, then maintain and revise your plan based on guidance or your circumstances.

The Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have prepared a document to help all workplaces prepare!
This document includes detailed information about how to develop a plan, implement prevention measures, and more. The basics are covered in the first half of the document: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 

Resuming Operations

Looking for specific guidance on getting ready for guests again?

The official training program to address COVID-19 concerns for NC hospitality businesses will be part of the Count on Me NC program. These simple, FREE training modules will empower guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe and protected.  All training modules are online videos, about 30 minutes in length. Get certified, get listed, and give your guests confidence by posting the certification.

There are certain requirements and recommendations from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. See their materials for different types of businesses here.

More:

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched their Safe Stay program. In addition to a resource directory, their own Enhanced Industry Wide Hotel Cleaning Standards offers concise and specific guidance for new standards.

The Vacation Rental Management Association released their Cleaning Guidelines for COVID-19, available in English and Spanish here.

Ecolab has compiled this detailed guidance intended to help you safely clean and disinfect your property as part of your reopening process:
Resuming Operations Guide

Ecolab’s Checklist is especially helpful prior to reopening:
Operational Readiness: Hospitality Reopening Checklist

Traveler Expectations

We know that travelers may have new expectations when traveling. At the beginning of May, when VisitNC asked what procedures would make people feel most confident that hotels are looking out for their health:

  • 36% answered that they’d like guests to be provided with hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.
  • 32% answered that they’d like cleaning and sanitizing procedures to be well-explained
  • 30% would feel more confident if they saw cleaning activity happening during their stay.

You can see the more of the answers to this question in the May 6th webinar from VisitNC. (If you’d like to skip to this survey question, it’s 4 minutes in.)

To inspire confidence in your guests:

-Share information about your cleaning practices on social media or send this information to your email subscribers.
-Post signs about best practices for guests, as well as your activities.
-Implement cleaning practices that your guests can see as part of your interactions with guests, like disinfecting point of sale screens or using hand sanitizer between customers.

 

More Resources for Local Hospitality

Hospitality Industry Webinars from VisitNC- free weekly topics, viewable live or recorded. Industry links and resources found here, too.
Industry Guidance from the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association- lots of free resources!
Recovery Readiness: A How-To Guide for Reopening Your Workplace– Very detailed guide addresses many concerns for property owners and employers.
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Resource Guide includes small business financing and crisis relief information.

NC & Regional Resources

NC Department of Health & Human Services provides ongoing information on NC Executive Orders and NC crisis response.
App Health Care provides updates on COVID-19 cases in our area.

Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus & Staying Healthy

Coronavirus Information from the CDCOverall Coronavirus information.

How COVID-19 Spreads -How to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by the CDC.

CDC Handwashing Posters – Posters you can print out for your  business to promote clean hygiene.

Mental Health Resources from NC – Taking care of your mental health is important during this difficult time!