Hotels battle COVID-19 with guest mask mandates

When the American Hotel & Lodging Association released its “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” for guests last week, the first item on the list was that hotels should “require face coverings in all indoor public spaces.” 

Brands are listening, and shifting from “encouraging” guests to wear masks, as MGM Resorts announced in May, to mandating face-coverings, as Hard Rock Hotels did with its Safe + Sound health and safety plan announced earlier this month. 

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Marriott’s Mandate

As of this coming Monday, guests at all Marriott International-branded hotels will have to wear masks in all public spaces, matching the requirement for employees. 

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“Health experts have made it clear that wearing face coverings in public spaces is one of the easiest steps that we can all take to protect one another and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a video address. “As part of our Commitment to Clean [initiative], we made it a brand standard that associates wear masks and set an example. Given the recent spikes across the U.S., and with guidance from health officials, we are now extending the requirement to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces of hotels to our guests, no matter the jurisdiction.” 

The requirements go into effect on July 27, and hotels will use prearrival reminders, signage and training to help ensure compliance. “We’ll continue to review the policy, following the advice of medical experts, and keep you informed of changes,” Sorenson added in the video.

Hyatt’s Requirements

On the same day, all Hyatt Hotels Corp. hotels in the U.S. and Canada will require face coverings within indoor public areas, which include meetings and events spaces, restaurants and bars, and fitness centers. 

The new policy’s announcement did acknowledge that some guests may be exempt from this mandate, including people with medical conditions, those consuming food or beverages in restaurants and children under the age of 2.

Face masks will be made available at all Hyatt hotels, and guests not wearing face coverings indoors will be asked to put one on. 

“This new policy comes at a pivotal time amidst the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and helps us care for the health and safety of our guests and colleagues,” said Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt’s president and CEO. “In an effort to enable safe travel, we support AHLA’s recently expanded Safe Stay initiative and traveler checklist that help us come together as an industry to promote clear guidelines, which for the foreseeable future include the wearing of face coverings in indoor public spaces and practicing social distancing throughout the hotel.”

Hyatt will continue to require colleagues to wear face masks—and additional personal protective equipment based on job specifications—at all of the company’s hotels globally. Hyatt also will continue to ask that all guests practice proper social distancing in indoor and outdoor public areas, and social distancing guidelines are prominently placed throughout all hotels.

Loews’ Protocols

Loews Hotels & Co, which has 26 properties in its portfolio, has mandated masks for several months. As part of its Welcoming You Like Family initiative that was launched in mid-May, all guests will be asked to have a face covering/mask on, prior to entering the hotel on arrival. In addition, when physical distancing is not possible, such as in lobbies and other public areas, team members and guests are required to wear face coverings/masks.

“As hotel operators and owners, we have a role and responsibility to provide a welcoming, safe and comfortable environment for team members, guests and our communities, and now more than ever we need to ensure we are exceeding expectations in this area,” Jonathan Tisch, chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co., said last week when the Stay Safe Guest Checklist was announced.

According to CNN, Hilton also plans to require guests to wear masks, but has not yet released a start date. Radisson Hotel Group and IHG also offered their support to the AHLA’s checklist when it was released.