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Covid rules for hotels: What do new UK restrictions mean?

new covid restrictions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases in a televised address to the nation on Sunday 12 December, as the UK’s Covid alert level was raised to Level 4.

“Do not make the mistake of thinking omicron can’t hurt you, can’t make you and your loved ones seriously ill” Johnson warned, pointing out that hospital admissions in South Africa had doubled within a week.

According to government guidance, Level 4 means the epidemic is “in general circulation, transmission is high and direct Covid-19 pressure on healthcare services is widespread and substantial or rising”.

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Despite rumours of further restrictions being announced, Johnson’s address instead focused on the roll-out of booster vaccines, which will be available to book for anyone over the age of 18 by the end of the year.

Last week, the government introduced Plan B, which saw the reintroduction of working from home guidance and an expanded mask mandate.

The return to working from home brings England in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The full list of restrictions in England under Plan B can be found below:

  • Guidance to work from home reintroduced from 13 December
  • Legally mandating face masks in “most public indoor venues”, including theatres and cinemas from 10 December, with exceptions “where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing”
  • NHS COVID passes for nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people
  • Daily testing for people identified as a contact of a coronavirus case. Only those who test positive are required to isolate

The tighter restrictions are in addition to new international travel laws that were introduced in late November, which require all international arrivals to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test.

Analysis: How do new Covid restrictions in the UK impact hotels?

Boutique Hotelier says: “It is clear that the Omicron variant poses a real threat and we welcome necessary restrictions to help halt the spread, even if that sadly means new Covid rules for hotels. However, there is no denying that tighter restrictions will impact the hotel sector in the run-up to Christmas – we’re already hearing reports of cancelled stays and planned Christmas parties that are no longer going ahead. The accelerated roll-out of the booster vaccine gives us hope, but it seems that hoteliers are headed for another Christmas filled with uncertainty.”

Covid rules for hotels: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I stay in a hotel during Coronavirus?

Yes, hotels in the UK are currently open to guests.

Do I need to wear a mask at a hotel?

New government guidance requires face coverings to be worn “in most public indoor venues” so many hotels will now require guests to wear face coverings as they move around the hotel. However, the guidance allows exceptions “where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing”, which means hotel guests may not be required to wear face coverings while seated in hotel restaurants or while using hotel gym equipment.

Do I need to wear a mask at a hotel spa?

Under current guidelines, it is likely that most hotels will require guests to wear a face covering while moving around their spa and potentially during treatments. However, in the case of treatments that involve use of the face (e.g. facials), guests will be able to remove their masks.

Do hotel staff need to wear a mask?

The majority of hospitality staff, including those working in hotels, wear face coverings while performing their duties, unless they are exempt.

What happens if a guest in your hotel tests positive?

Confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 should arrange to travel home as quickly as possible via private transport. If the guest is unable to travel home, they will be required to self-isolate in their hotel room – they must not visit any public spaces within the hotel.

You should also ask the guest to book a PCR test and will need to provide them with food and drink and any additional items (e.g. extra towels). This will all need to be done without entering the room or making contact with the guest.

Once the guest has finished the required self-isolation period and they are well enough to travel, they no longer need to isolate and should return to their main residence.

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Eamonn Crowe

The author Eamonn Crowe

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