How to reopen hospitality and tourist properties safely

July 30, 2020
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On 10 July 2020, the Government published new guidance for owners and operators in countryside and coastal areas in the light of the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID pandemic. The guidance, found here, also provides examples of good UK and international practice.

The key points we would highlight for commercial property owners and operators are as follows:

  1. As restrictions ease in countryside and coastal areas the tourism economy is expected (and encouraged) to return, but this also creates challenges when considered alongside the COVID pandemic. The guidance is aimed to help these areas to operate while remaining COVID secure. 
  2. There is a strong reinforcement in the guidance of the need to use signs and posters at the entrance and throughout the property; to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to avoid touching your face.
  3. The Government guidance also set outs the principles and measures that can be taken to manage public (or portable) toilets and keep them clean to minimise COVID transmission risk.  To enable good hand hygiene it is recommend to make hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets, where safe and practical, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand driers) are available.
  4. In terms of waste management, additional or residual “black bag” litter bins should be provided for visitors to dispose of used face coverings or PPE, such as gloves. Bins should be emptied frequently.  This could have an impact on staffing and rotas.
  5. To use social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out in some cases. Operators will know their own properties and can consider how to avoid bottlenecks in high volume areas.
  6. There is a recommendation to keep the facilities well ventilated where possible, for example by fixing doors open, where appropriate and in line with general health and safety requirements.
  7. To increase the frequency of cleaning in line with usage, operators can use normal cleaning products (paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces) but should consider the use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
  8. Consider any car parking arrangements and what steps can be taken to mitigate antisocial or illegal parking. There is mention of the temporary changes to permitted development rights for planning law purposes. On 25 June, the Government temporarily extended the length of time for which permitted development rights can be used, to allow anyone to use land for any purpose in a single year. So, from the beginning of July until the end of December 2020, the length of time that land can be used for any purpose is now 56 days for most purposes. So there may be scope for operators to enter dialogue with their local authority about car parking, for instance, if there is land within a site that could be repurposed for car parking.
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