Officials have published hygiene and other protocols for hotels as the island’s tourist industry navigates new rules aimed at safeguarding public health amid the coronavirus outbreak while making it possible for guests to enjoy a holiday.
Hotels can open from June 1 although many are still waiting on a clearer picture regarding flights once airports open on June 9 as they seek to gauge interest among foreign holidaymakers.
Cyprus’ deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios has said that Cyprus is aiming at about one million foreign visitors this year – some 30% of last year. Incentives and other programmes are being drawn up to encourage domestic tourism which traditionally represents only about 4% of overnight stays.
Regarding important markets like the UK, Russia and Sweden, Perdios told Reuters he expects in early July the situation there will allow their travel to Cyprus.
His comments coincided with the publication of a destination protocol for tourism partners in the form of a 14 point FAQ covering the main queries regarding travel and holidays in Cyprus.
Foreign media were quick to pick up on the undertaking by Cyprus to cover the costs of any tourist who tests positive for the coronavirus while on holiday here. Under the plan, Cyprus will cover lodging, food, drink and medication for Covid-19 patients and their families. Patients will only have to pay for the taxi ride to the airport and the flight back home. A 100-bed hospital will cater exclusively to foreign travelers who test positive while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be reserved for patients’ family members and other close contacts.
In publishing the hygiene protocol, the health authorities said this was the minimum that must be implemented.
Here are some of the main points:
Hygiene of staff: written instructions and training on the spread of coronavirus so that they recognize the symptoms to prevent possible spread. Staff should also be trained on prevention (distance of 2 metres, correct use of masks, gloves, washing hands, covering nose/mouth when sneezing/coughing).
Hotel management must make arrangements to monitor staff regarding possible symptoms, including taking temperature of employees daily.
Staff who have contact with guests should restrict exchanges to the absolute necessary.
Wearing of mask and proper hand hygiene is mandatory. An effort should be made for staff to work in pre-allotted groups so as to minimize risk of spreading of the virus in the event of a positive case.
Breaks and meals should be managed in a way to avoid crowding.
Staff who are vulnerable should not carry out duties which expose them (eg reception) and in general should not come into contact with guests.
Organisation of interior of hotels and tourist accommodation
There must be a transparent panel at reception as well as signs on the floor to maintain distance. Signs are also compulsory in common areas regarding distancing.
Clients must be spread out during check-in. Guests should be briefed on measures.
On arrival checks will be in line with protocols as set by decrees. Only one person to approach reception at any given time. Staff who carry luggage should take protective measures such as gloves. No new arrival into room unless a two hour period has passed and after thorough cleaning, disinfection and ventilation with special emphasis on surfaces. Disinfection of key and key cards.
Masks must be worn to use a lift. Lifts can only half the maximum permitted. There must be ample hand sanitiser.
Sporting facilities will be regulated in line with decrees.
A/c can be used provided there is constant import of fresh air either with equipment or with regular ventilation.
Air jets to dry hands are not allowed in communal washrooms.
Every bedroom must have adequate natural ventilation and if this is not possible, then artificial ventilation must offer 100% fresh air without recycling.
Pending the further lifting of restrictive measures, children’s play areas will not operate, indoors or outside.
Organisation of outdoor areas of hotels and tourist accommodation
Four metre distance between umbrellas and two metres between sunbeds under different umbrellas. Bathers must use towels on sunbed. Management must make sure to disinfect sunbeds, chairs, tables after use by each client. No promotions which may lead to more people.
Pending the lifting of restrictive measures, use of changing rooms and showers in indoor closed areas as much as possible. Where possible, these should operate outdoors. If indoor use is unavoidable these must be disinfected after use by each client.
Use of sunbeds umbrellas under decrees in force.
Food and drink
Personal hygiene rules by staff. Same rules as for catering establishments apply. For the time being bars cannot be used, indoors or outdoors, to serve clients but can be used only to prepare food and drink.
Minimum distance between clients tables staying in separate rooms is 2 metres. This does not apply if it is the same family.
Room service can be provided with staff wearing gloves and where possible leave the tray outside the room, but not on the floor. In all cases they must adhere to the 2 metres distancing rules.
Buffet service – compliance with decrees preventing crowding and ensuring distancing rules are adhered to. Entry and exit should be regulated and during peak times and the number of guests must be managed. Guests must use hand sanitiser before approaching the buffet. Every effort should be made for food to be served by staff who must wear gloves and masks. Regarding coffee and juice stations automated service should be preferred so that guests need not touch the machines. There must be hand sanitiser and arrangements made for quick service. Where possible food should be in ready portions but environmental concerns as regards packaging must also be taken into consideration. Serving utensils should be used only by staff. Alternatively the servings must be individual. If the use of a serving utensil by the guest cannot be avoided there must be hand sanitizer there that must be used by the guest and management must change the utensil frequently. Staff at the buffet must wear masks if they approach clients. To avoid crowding, room service can be offered free or with a lower charge. Also proposed is staggered time schedule. Plexiglass should be placed between guest and food wherever possible.
Cleaning and disinfection
There are strict rules for cleaning staff both for rooms and areas etc, but also as regards linen etc.
There must be ample soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, protective masks, single use gloves, thermometers, etc whereas procedures must be in place regarding traceability of guests, staff etc
There are also rules as to how hotel management should handle a suspect case.