WYNDHAM HOTELS & RESORTS is the latest large hotel company to require guests to wear masks in public places. At the same time, several CEOs of those same companies sent a letter to Congress asking for more and better COVID-19 testing.
Wyndham’s new policy will take effect on Aug. 10 in U.S. and Canada property. Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham president and CEO, announced the new policy on Wednesday.
“We all must play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Ballotti said. “This is a simple step we can take to help protect guests, team members, franchisees, and the countless communities we serve.”
The policy is part of Wyndham’s participation in the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” is part of its Safe Stay initiative launched in May. It follows Marriott International’s announcement of its new mask mandate on July 21. Other companies that are now requiring face coverings for guests are Hilton, InterContinental Hotel Group, Radisson Hotel Group, Loews Hotels & Co. and Hyatt Hotels Corp.
“This new policy comes at a pivotal time amidst the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and helps us care for the health and safety of our guests and colleagues,” said Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt president and CEO. “In an effort to enable safe travel, we support AHLA’s recently expanded Safe Stay initiative and traveler checklist that help us come together as an industry to promote clear guidelines, which for the foreseeable future include the wearing of face coverings in indoor public spaces and practicing social distancing throughout the hotel.”
Under Hyatt’s policy, guests who are not wearing face coverings indoors will be asked to wear one and masks will be made available to all. The company “requests” that all guests practice social distancing. However, while mask mandates are becoming de rigueur, enforcement of the new rules has been inconsistent, according to an article in Forbes.
“From a business standpoint, the face-mask requirement is going to only encourage more people to come to your business and help your occupancy rates that are so hurt right now,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, told Forbes. “So, from that perspective, it’s an incentive for our industry to make sure that we’re not only promoting this, but enforcing it. But the enforcement, given all the challenges that we face, is probably not going to be uniform.”
Uniform enforcement is not realistic, Rogers said.
“We’re still working on that part to come up with something that’s uniform, but as of right now, it would be enforced and is being enforced on a case by case basis,” he said.
Testing, testing, testing
On July 27, 13 CEOs from major hospitality companies sent a letter to President Trump and Congress asking that measures to ensure more and better COVID-19 testing be included in the next federal stimulus package, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The letter specifically endorses the TEST Act that has been introduced in the Senate.
“The travel industry has aggressively gathered data on the coronavirus outbreak and its fallout in order to inform our exhaustive deliberations on best health practices, trends and attitudes among travel consumers, and the proper timing of a safe reopening of the American travel economy,” the letter said. “Analysis of the data leads to the conclusion that broader testing—in concert with other key factors such as a robust federal policy framework of relief and stimulus, rigorous health and safety standards adopted by travel-related businesses, and the universal embrace of good health practices (such as the wearing of masks) by the public—is an essential component of reopening and recovery.”
Roger Dow, USTA’s president, along with Hoplamazian and Ballotti, signed the letter.
Other signatories to the letter were:
- Heather McCrory of Accor North America
- David Kong of Best Western Hotels & Resorts
- Pat Pacious of Choice Hotels International
- Chrissy Taylor of Enterprise Holdings
- Chris Nassetta of Hilton
- Jim Risoleo of Host Hotels & Resorts
- George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands Corporation
- Elie Maalouf of InterContinental Hotels Group
- Jonathan Tisch of Loews Hotels
- Arne Sorenson of Marriott