With restrictions on staying over at anywhere that isn’t your primary residence still part of coronavirus lockdown rules, hotels are still one of the off-limits parts of normal life. The UK has been in lockdown since March 23, when Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay at home and only travel for essential reasons. Since then restrictions have gradually eased, with meeting friends allowed again and non essential stores being allowed to throw open their doors again.
But while many of us are keen to take a break, hotels are currently still closed.
The hospitality sector has been badly effected by coronavirus, and is still thought to be last sector to reopen, as hotels, bars, pubs and restaurants do not lend themselves to social distancing rules particularly easily.
Research from the Good Hotel Guide found that 75 percent of hospitality businesses are gearing up and ready to begin operating from July 5, when the lockdown is set to loosen again.
Policies will vary from hotel to hotel and from chains to independents, but the focus on stopping another outbreak of COVID-19 will be central to all.
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When will hotels reopen?
Some hotel chains are still operating but most have rooms only for key workers.
But many hotels are now looking to reopen from July 4 onwards, dependent on Government guidelines.
When hotels do reopen fully, however, they will look considerably different to how they did before.
What will hotels be like?
The focus will be on social distancing, as the all important two metre rule will still be in place for some time.
Hotels are likely to have reduced intake to help this – while staying in individual rooms is fine, moving around the hotel and adhering to social distancing rules when they are at full capacity can be difficult.
This begins with web check ins to avoid preventable contact and queues at check in desks, and any in person check in times will likely to staggered throughout the day.
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Perspex screens like the ones already being used in retail and supermarkets will be in place.
Chains such as InterContinental and RIU have already committed to these changes, and they are likely to be similar across all chains and independent hotels.
Lifts will likely be operating a one way system, with only so many people allowed in at once.
Transporting your own bags will also be necessary unless you have a disability or are elderly.
In rooms, non essential items such as magazines and mini bars could be removed.
Cleaning regimes will of course be ramped up, with a focus on high touch points such as light switches, taps and door handles.
Eating and entertainment will also be approached differently. Buffet breakfasts are likely to become a thing of the past, with preordered meals via phone or an app likely to become the norm.
Menus will also be amended and reduced to allow for less staff in kitchens.
Some chains may remove elements such as salt and pepper shakers or sauce bottles – though they will be on hand if you need them.
Al fresco dining becoming the norm is one of the only changes not likely to cause annoyance, as being outside helps reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Dinner times could also be staggered to allow for social distancing in restaurants and bars.