On May 11th, 2020, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) issued a Protocol for Hospitality Activities in the Tourism Industry ICT-P-01, as a guide to be used by businesses in the hospitality sub-sector in the drafting of their own protocols, following the detailed format and instructions therein, while implementing the sanitary guidelines established by the Ministry of Health as an essential requirement for the reactivation of the industry.
These protocols establish the path that will allow hotels to gradually offer their services with at least 50% of their capacity to avoid the production of chains of contagion. The protocols will be periodically revised, and their parameters updated in the websites of the Ministry of Health, ICT, the National Chamber of Tourism, and the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels.
Amongst the aspects to consider in the preparation of the internal protocols we highlight the following:
Hygiene and disinfection
- The supply of drinking water, cleaning and disinfecting products (for personal use and surfaces), and other related supplies, like personal protection equipment, must be guaranteed. Alcohol gel must be available to all in common areas.
- Hygiene measures must be intensified through the adoption of a plan and a schedule for facility cleaning and disinfection, assignment of those responsible, personnel training on the steps to follow and the correct use of equipment and products, and record keeping that documents the periodicity in which cleaning, disinfection and waste management is done.
- Protocols for sneezing, coughing, hand washing, greetings, no touching of the face and populations at risk, must be posted in visible areas in the English language at least, and if possible, in other common languages among tourists.
- The most concurred areas in the facilities and the surfaces people come into most contact with shall be identified to intensify cleaning measures in these places, to asses the need to install acrylic screens, and signal the recommended distance between individuals.
- The ICT recommends the preparation of a Business Continuity Plan that identifies threats, addresses impact analysis, crisis management, emergency response, communication in times of crisis, recovery process, and other aspects the business considers to be necessary.
- A shift and schedule distribution plan that adjusts to the operative needs of the business and the current sanitary measures shall be prepared to guarantee social distancing between employees during their entry, breaks and exit.
- Practices that promote good hygiene in all personnel must be defined and incentivized through informative talks that encourage the frequent washing of uniforms and clothing, and reminders of the importance to wash hands on an hourly basis.
- Jobs that may be performed remotely shall be identified and virtual meetings are encouraged, even within the same building. If a meeting requires the presence of its attendees, it must be held following the guidelines established by the Ministry of Health.
- Instructions of the use and transit through hallways, staircases, electric bands, and elevators are to be indicated to avoid contact between individuals where possible.
- Attention to visitors and suppliers shall be planned, as well as communication with them, their registry of entrance, and other relevant measures.
Actions in the face of case confirmation
- Employees and guests that have symptoms associated to COVID-19, and have been in contact with others diagnosed as suspicious, probable or confirmed cases must be evaluated by the company doctor or at the corresponding medical center, following the guidelines of the Ministry of Health related to communication, care, transport, containment, etc.
- Personal protection equipment (facemasks, gloves, etc.) shall be given to those considered as suspicious cases. If employees, guests, or suppliers were exposed, the guidelines must be followed, and the Ministry of Health must be consulted on how to proceed.
- The protocol must include the way contact and personal information is registered for confirmed cases, for the purpose of communicating it to the health authorities. Confidentiality and data protection must be ensured.
- Diagnosed employees could return to their duties after they are officially discharged by the Costa Rican Department of Social Security (CCSS).
- Appropriate channels of communication shall be used to properly inform employees, suppliers, and guests about the prevention and containment measures adopted to address the COVID-19 emergency, as well as the recommendations made by the Ministry of Health to that effect.
- Guests shall be informed of service conditions and availability, schedules, facility access and use provisions, and prevention measures put into effect when confirming the reservation and during check-in.