Temperature Checks, Other Precautions Will Be Part of The Downtown Fairmont Hotel Reopening

From Post Gazzette

When one of Downtown’s most prestigious hotels reopens later this month, check-in will come with a new twist — a temperature screening.

Nearly four months after closing its doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic and furloughing about 200 employees, the Fairmont Pittsburgh will resume operations July 24, with new procedures in place, including the temperature checks, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Last month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association stated the pandemic had prompted the furlough of more than 70% of hotel employees. The association also stated that 2020 would be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy, with some experts predicting that it would not be until 2022 that hotels return to 2019 occupancy and revenue levels.

Fairmont spokeswoman Andrea Stehle said the Pittsburgh hotel decided to reopen at this time based on demand for bookings and confidence in the procedures it has put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “The timing was right for us given the demands of business and our business levels,” she said.

Also opening July 24 will be the fl.2 restaurant and the hotel’s health club and spa. Andys cq Bar will reopen at a later date.

The new temperature checks will take place at the main entrance to the hotel and will involve “anyone coming through the front doors,” Ms. Stehle said.

Employees who have a fever will be asked to go home. The hotel will then follow up with them to determine when it is safe to return to work, she said.

Guests who register a fever will have the option of returning home or staying at the hotel, where “self-isolating protocols” will be implemented for them and any traveling companions.

The goal is to keep them and other guests at the hotel safe, Ms. Stehle said. The hotel also is willing to make arrangements to get guests with a fever to a medical facility for assessment if necessary.

Ms. Stehle said the temperature screenings are part of Fairmont corporate policy, “That was the smartest decision we could make, making sure each guest is screened,” she said.

In announcing the reopening, the 185-room hotel stated that it is taking a host of precautions designed to protect guests and employees from the “spread of all viruses and pathogens, including COVID-19.”

Besides temperature checks, those measures include physical distancing and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting, with a focus on high-touch points.

In addition, masks will be provided to guests and worn at all times by workers. Guests must wear masks in the hotel’s public spaces. The hotel also will wait 48 hours after a guest has checked out before renting that room again.

The Fairmont stated that it developed the safety measures in consultation with a number of experts, including Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the John Hopkins University Center for Health Security, and advisers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As we welcome our friends, family and community back to Fairmont Pittsburgh, please be assured that we are looking ahead, through and past the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that our valued guests and employees will always be looked after with the highest degree of safety, care and comfort,” said Christian Klaus, the Fairmont’s interim general manager.

The hospitality industry as a whole has been hit hard by COVID-19. As travel all but ceased because of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, occupancy plunged to the single digits in many places, forcing many to close at least temporarily or operate with skeleton staff. 

Last month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association said, even with some leisure travel resuming, 6 in 10 hotel rooms remained empty.

A report done by Oxford Economics and released by the association estimated that state and local tax revenues from hotels would drop by $16.8 billion nationwide and by $542.2 million in Pennsylvania this year.

As COVID-19 cases spiked across the country, the Fairmont closed its doors March 28, prompting the furlough of nearly all of about 215 employees.

Reopening room rates at the hotel will start at $189 a night. There also will be package deals for health care workers, local residents, dog walkers, and couples celebrating their anniversary.

With the hotel reopening, workers and managers will be returning in stages, although an exact number was not available.

According to VisitPittsburgh, other Downtown hotels that have yet to reopen are the Westin Convention Center, the Omni William Penn, the Distrikt, and the Sheraton at Station Square.

All should be resuming operations between now and Sept. 1, spokeswoman Shannon Wolfgang said.

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