Following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Hotel & Lodging Association is updating its Safe Stay guidelines to relax its policy on face masks for guests who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Last week the CDC said that fully vaccinated people needn't use face coverings in most settings, either indoors or outside; however, the mask mandate remains in effect for everyone during travel, including on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation, and in airports.
Hotels, however, are not part of that federal travel mandate. "Our Safe Stay guidelines will relax mask requirements for guests who are fully vaccinated," said AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers. "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 at all times and practice physical distancing."
Meanwhile, pending further direction from the CDC about how its updated guidance might affect businesses, the AHLA is asking that hotel employees continue to wear face coverings, and to follow all local business and workplace guidance. AHLA is updating its Safe Stay guidelines, however, to permit hotels to begin to ease face-mask restrictions for vaccinated employees who work outside or are not in close contact with others.
“The Covid-19 vaccine provides our nation and our industry hope for recovery after a devastating year," added Rogers. "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. In this spirit, as an industry we support innovative solutions to encourage our workforce and guests to get vaccinated, and we call on all Americans to be vaccinated before removing face coverings."
AHLA's Safe Stay guidelines, while not binding for hotel companies or properties, represent an industrywide initiative with significant support from hoteliers. They have also served as a blueprint for many of the safety protocols and programs established by the individual hospitality companies and brands.
“Moving into the next stages of recovery and as vaccination rates continue to increase, we will carefully consider all new guidance in accordance with all applicable federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations," Rogers noted. "In the meantime, Safe Stay’s rigorous health and safety protocols will continue to help support peace of mind for travelers.”