The COVID-19 pandemic has been a single item that has changed everything around the world. We have developed economies as a global community and much of this has been based on inter-country travel and exchange. All of this came to a halt due to the pandemic and the hospitality industry has scrambled to try to adapt for their very survival. The addition of new laws that are being implemented by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) regarding proof that guests and travelers are not infected with COVID-19 has introduced new rapid virus testing within the hospitality industry. Point-of-care products such as CareStart™ Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test that has been designed to offer results in as little as ten minutes and FaStep® Covid-19 Point-of-care Antibody Test that offers results in 15 minutes are now available onsite at hotels to assist in ensuring safety for guests and employees, and to comply with some of the new laws that have been instituted.
How Hotels and Resorts are Handling COVID-19 Testing
Traveling to the U.S. as well as internationally has now taken on a new requirement as many countries are requiring proof of a COVID-19 negative status. The original COVID-19 tests promised little in the way of any guarantee as they needed days for results to be presented and the patient could acquire the virus during the waiting time. The use of rapid testing trend was initially used in some of the smaller resorts and hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean that Americans could easily visit. In some cases on-site testing was introduced simply as a safety measure, however, now that new law being put into place, some in the hospitality industry are offering on-site testing as a “perk” for staying with them. Effective Jan. 26, 2021, anyone entering the U.S. must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entry into the country; including U.S. citizens.A variety of resorts and hotels are addressing on-site testing in a few ways. Some have set up robust testing systems. A traveler is required to arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result no more than 5 days prior to their arrival. The guest then needs to take a rapid antigen test once they arrive and will quarantine in their room until the results are returned. Guests that get negative results are given wristbands to show that they have passed the test and they can then enjoy staying at the hotel or resort. In cases where a guest will be staying for five days or longer, they will be required to take another on-site rapid test on the fifth day.As the popularity and need is increasing for on-site COVID-19 rapid testing, the trend is expanding and hotels as well as resorts are assuring potential guests that they can arrive and/or depart with the ability of pre-travel testing. Some of the testing is being offered for free as an amenity, whereas other locations are charging their guests in fees that range based on whether it is a PCR or antigen test. It’s anticipated that as competition continues to rise, the hospitality industry will continue to use COVID-19 testing as a way to put guests minds at ease.
What Happens if a Guest Tests Positive?
Implementing effective on-site testing in the hospitality industry has been an undertaking. However, these organizations are struggling to setup follow through actions for any guest that tests positive. In some cases, they require immediate quarantine and send in-house medical staff to reconfirm the COVID-19 test and then relocation to a medical facility that can offer proper treatment. A few have established the ability to remain in a special guest quarantine area, but once a second test is positive, it removes the chances for a guest to fly home. The various options will continue to expand as each hotel or resort implements more testing.
Hospitality Employees Need to Also Be Tested
The CDC has detailed specific guidelines and recommendations for: COVID-19 Employer Information for Hotels, Resorts, and Lodges that includes instructions for establishing COVID-19 policy strategies for continued testing, wearing masks, social distancing, sterilization of workplace, and sick leave availability. Many of the hotels and resorts are implementing private on-site rapid testing procedures to ensure that their employees continue to work in a safe environment. GenePace is currently working with hotels and the hospitality industry to assist in COVID-19 point-of-care rapid test access and to accommodate the challenging logistics.