Hotel Workers Call for More Safety Measures Ahead of Industry Reopening

NBC Connecticut

Connecticut hotel workers held a car caravan in Hartford Tuesday to deliver a petition calling for stronger public health and safety guidelines for the hotel and lodging industry ahead of its reopening.

Hotels and other accommodations are part of the phase two opening set for Wednesday. Thousands of workers in the industry have been without jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, forced to rely on unemployment. The governor closed all short-term accommodations to anyone except essential workers in March.

In the petition addressed to Gov. Ned Lamont, workers said that many of them are without or in danger of losing employer-provided health insurance, and fear what that means for them and their families if they do get sick.

"Before a responsible opening is possible, we need adequate measures to protect the health and safety of hotel workers and the public," the petition reads.

Organizers said they had over 350 signatures.

The workers are looking for specific public health measures for hotels, hazard pay for hotel employees, and a mandate that employees who do not return to work should be able to continue collecting unemployment. They are also looking for guaranteed health insurance, either by a requirement that employers maintain coverage, or through state health insurance programs.

“We are on the front lines of reopening Connecticut, and we need it to go well,” said Sandra Walton, a housekeeper at the Hartford Hilton hotel. “If Governor Lamont and the hotels don’t strengthen the current guidelines, we risk getting sick, and we won’t be able to provide guests the quality service they deserve. An outbreak could tank the industry. Standards like daily room cleaning will keep us and our guests safe and help business thrive. If Governor Lamont and the hotels truly want a successful reopening, they need to do more to protect us.”

Local 217 UNITE HERE, which headed the caravan, represents workers from the Hartford Hilton Hotel, the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Stamford Hilton Hotel and Greenwich Hyatt, as well as others.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to those chains for comment on the petition.

The governor's office has provided the following guidance on how hotels can reopen safely:

  • Hotels and lodging are open to guests with reservations
  • Hand sanitizer will be at entrances and in common areas
  • Employees are not allowed to enter guest rooms while a guest is there
  • Room service deliveries should be bagged and left at the door and food should be on disposable dishes and served with disposable cutlery
  • Meeting and convention spaces will be limited to current indoor social guidelines
  • Pools and gyms must follow the same rules that fitness and athletic facilities have to follow
  • Social distancing will be encouraged in elevators
  • Shields will be placed at the front desk if it's not possible to stay six feet apart
  • Contactless payment and mobile check-in and check-out with digital receipts should be available
  • Disposable items will be provided where possible, including plastic cups, single-use shampoo/conditioner, tissues
  • Linens will be stored in closed cabinets

For more on the phase 2 reopening plans, click here.

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