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Physically distanced dancing and no menus - how a re-opened hospitality sector might look

New guidance was published by Fáilte Ireland.

Hotels and conference rooms will look very different.
Hotels and conference rooms will look very different.
Image: Shutterstock/Bogoshipda

SELF-SERVE BUFFETS will disappear in post-pandemic hotels, while the seating in bars and restaurants will be significantly reduced, according to new guidance for the hospitality sector published by Fáilte Ireland. 

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that summer was not lost as he set out an updated roadmap that would see the tourism and hospitality sectors return on 29 June.

However, the new guidance suggests that many hotels and restaurants will have undergone a radical transformation since they closed in March.  

The guidelines build on the work safety protocols announced last month by the government. 

While new regime of cleaning, physical distancing and hand sanitising was expected, the guidance also suggests that many practices are no longer congruent with a society in which Covid-19 is circulating. 

Table service, in particular, will look very different. The Fáilte Ireland guidance, published this morning, states that bar snacks and finger food will no longer be shared and will instead be served to individual guests. 

Tableside cooking will also be suspended if physical distancing isn’t possible, while staff will be required to maintain physical distancing from customers. 

Menus will also become “single use or made of a material that can easily be cleaned”, the guidance states. 

More drastically, the guidance suggests that staff could instead tell customers verbally what’s on the menu. 

In hotels, along with more physically distance room service, mini bars will become very different. 

“Minibars must have all loose product removed and the bar then be locked. Items can be made available upon request from Room Service,” the guidance says. 

Pools and gyms

While it remains to be seen whether pools and gyms will be allowed to re-open, the Fáilte Ireland guidance states that significant changes will need to be introduced. 

Viewing chairs and seating will be removed, while guests will be encouraged to use their rooms for changing. 

A two-metre distance in gyms should be tightly enforced by staff. 

Other activities, such as golf, will look very different. Only one player is allowed to travel in a cart unless they’re with someone from the same household, while space between tee times will be increased to 15-minute intervals. 

In spas, therapists must be provided with appropriate PPE and safeguards where physical distancing can’t be practiced. 

Weddings

There is still no indication of when and how weddings will be able to return. However, the guidance provides an indication of what ceremonies and celebrations might look like in the future. 

“To avoid making direct contact with doors, guests should enter the property through doors that are automated or manually operated by an employee where possible,” it states. 

Canapés will be served in individual portions, while loose furniture will be removed from rooms to facilitate physical distancing. 

There will be no shared items on dinner tables and each guest will be served individual portions, with no shared vegetable or gravy dishes. 

Dance floors might see the biggest change. “Signage on tables and dance floors must ask guests to respect physical distancing guidelines,” the document states. 

“Employees must monitor and manage distancing,” it adds. 

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The guidance has been welcomed by the Irish Hotel Federation. “While they have been closed for business since March, hotels and guesthouses across the country have already started to adapt their services and facilities in anticipation of reopening under Covid-19 guidelines,” said Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation. 

“The publication of these standards today gives them further clarity on what is required,” she added. 

“We are seeing great examples of creativity, innovation and flexibility in terms of how hotels are using their property’s spaces as well as rethinking services, dining and leisure offerings.”

The full guidance can be read here

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