COVID-19 - Information for hotels and hotel staff

This page was last updated 20 March 2020.

Going to work

Hotel staff cannot work in hotels if they:

  • have been overseas in the last 14 days (they must self-isolate for 14 days from their departure). For more information, please see information on self-isolation
  • have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).

If you develop symptoms (listed below) within 14 days of being overseas, or within 14 days of contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you should phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453. Read more about advice for travellers.

What to tell staff

Hotel management should provide information and brief all employees and contract staff, including domestic and cleaning staff, on relevant information and procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus to people in the hotel setting. You should inform staff who meet the above criteria that they should self-isolate and not come into work. Depending on their job, they may be able to work remotely from home. Workers should advise their employer if they develop symptoms during the self-isolation period, particularly if they have been in the workplace.

About COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The virus seen in mainland China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. Cases of COVID-19 are now being reported in many other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal and there is now evidence that it can spread from person to person.


Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

How the virus spreads

The virus is most likely to spread from person to person through:

  • direct contact with a person while they are infectious
  • contact with droplets when a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes
  • touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by droplets (like those from a cough or sneeze) from a person with a confirmed infection and then touching your mouth or face.

The length of time that a person is infectious (that is, can spread the infection to others) is not yet known. However, there is evidence of people without any symptoms or with minimal symptoms transmitting the infection to others. It is therefore likely that a person can spread the infection from before the time they first develop symptoms until up to 48 hours after symptoms stop.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health is currently recommending an isolation period of 14 days for people who have been overseas and for anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case.

High-risk populations

Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily and others may become very ill, very quickly.

From previous experience with other coronaviruses, the people at highest risk of serious infection are:

  • people with compromised immune systems
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • very young children and babies
  • people with diagnosed heart and lung conditions.

Self-isolation guidelines

You should inform your employer as soon as possible that you have been overseas or had contact with a confirmed case and isolate yourself for 14 days. If you have already returned to work, but should have been self-isolating, inform your employer immediately and isolate yourself for the remainder of the 14-day period.

If you go on to develop symptoms:

  • immediately isolate yourself from others in your home
  • seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contacting your GP or emergency health centre by phoning ahead of your visit
  • when you get to the doctor’s clinic or hospital, tell them again that you may have COVID-19 infection
  • as soon as possible, please call your employer to notify them that you have developed symptoms and will be tested for COVID-19.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing:

  • call 111 and ask for an ambulance
  • tell the ambulance officers that you may have COVID-19 infection.

Your doctor will consider testing you for COVID-19 and provide advice on your care. You may also be contacted by public health officers who will provide you with more information and coordinate with your employer as needed.

Preventing the spread of the virus

Practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water and dry them well, before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging and other intimate contact)
  • cover coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or your elbow and dispose of tissues
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if you aren’t able to wash and dry your hands.

Hotel guests and COVID-19

The risk of guests who may be infected staying in hotels is currently very low. It is important that the hotel provides guests with information about COVID-19 to prevent spread upon their arrival to the hotel. Download health advice cards from the Ministry of Health website.

Guests in self-isolation

If your guests need to self-isolate in a hotel, it is important that staff take precautions. The risk to staff should be low if they wash their hands well and the guests do not have symptoms. Staff should avoid close contact with these guests, but it is safe to be in the same room (at a distance) without protective equipment when delivering food, which we recommend that guests have in their room.

Cleaning guidelines

Cleaning staff should avoid close contact with guests who have self-isolated. They should wear gloves while cleaning and use alcohol hand rub before and after wearing gloves. As an added precaution, your cleaning staff may wish to wear a surgical mask while cleaning the room. Before entering the room, cleaning staff may inquire if people are well and ask them to put on a surgical mask.

Guests who become ill

If a person who has self-isolated or has been overseas in the past 14 days develops symptoms, they should urgently phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453. It is also important to phone ahead to the hospital or doctor to get advice. If you need to get urgent medical help for your guest:

  • call 111 and ask for an ambulance
  • tell the ambulance officers that your guest may have COVID-19 infection.

Staff should avoid contact with guests who become unwell and seek appropriate medical advice if this occurs.

Anyone who has been overseas in the previous 14 days who develops symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical advice by phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

More information

See the main COVID-19 page for the latest advice, information and resources.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Anyone who has been overseas in the previous 14 days who develops symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical advice by phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

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