Hotels easing mask restrictions for vaccinated guests

AHLA has changed its Safe Stay guidelines for member hotels

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to wear masks in many circumstances, the American Hotel & Lodging Association urged its members to relax mask requirements for hotel guests.

U.S. HOTELS ARE beginning to relax their policies requiring fully vaccinated guests to wear facemasks in light of recent guidance from the federal government and hotel associations. Those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are still asked to wear masks, however, and many companies are making other caveats to oblige local restrictions.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association called the relaxed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “welcome news.” AAHOA also praised the CDC decision previously, but stopped short of specifying how hotels should implement the new law. Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, was direct in saying the restrictions should be eased.

“In light of the recent CDC announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most settings, our Safe Stay guidelines will relax mask requirements for guests who are fully vaccinated,” Rogers said. “At this time, we are not asking hotels to require proof of vaccination status, but we do ask that all guests and workers, vaccinated or not, respect and honor these revised guidelines. Unvaccinated guests should wear face-coverings and practice physical distancing at all times in public settings.”

Hotel companies that are allowing vaccinated guests to stay without masks so far include Best Western International, Choice Hotels, Hilton Worldwide and IHG Hotels & Resorts.

“After careful review and in accordance with the new CDC guidance released last week and AHLA Safe Stay guidelines and recommendations, guests who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings while on property,” IHG posted on its website. “We continue to encourage hotel guests who are not vaccinated (or yet fully vaccinated) to wear face coverings while indoors and outdoors where social distancing is not possible.”

Rogers said hotel employees should continue to wear masks indoors for now and follow local and business restrictions on mask wearing. Employees who work outside and/or are not in close contact with others also can reduce their mask use while maintaining compliance with state and local requirements which may go beyond what is recommended by the CDC.

“The COVID-19 vaccine provides our nation and our industry hope for recovery after a devastating year,” Rogers said. But, we expect further guidance from the CDC and public health experts to support our efforts to ensure the safety of our workforce, guests and the general public,” Rogers said. “In this spirit, as an industry we support innovative solutions to encourage our workforce and guests to get vaccinated and call on all Americans to be vaccinated before removing face-coverings.”

AHLA will continue to revise the Safe Stay guidelines as more changes are made to federal and local guidelines.