One of Britain’s biggest hotel operators has announced plans to reopen hundreds of its sites – but mini-bars and buffet breakfasts will be taken off the menu.
French company Accor, which owns brands including Novotel, Mercure, Ibis and Sofi tel, is aiming to reopen some of its 270 hotels from the start of July.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is today expected to announce the hospitality industry, as well as hairdressers, theatres and cinemas, can reopen from July 4 – now being dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by some MPs.
But the chain will introduce a raft of changes, which will include bringing a stop to buffet breakfasts, emptying the mini-bars and taking paperwork and telephones out of rooms, The Guardian reports today.
One of Britain’s biggest hotel operators has announced plans to reopen hundreds of its sites – but mini-bars and buffet breakfasts (pictured: library image) will be taken off the menu
French company Accor, which owns brands including Novotel (pictured), Mercure, Ibis and Sofi tel, is aiming to reopen some of its 270 hotels from the start of July
But the chain, which owns the Mercure brand (pictured), will introduce a raft of changes, which will include bringing a stop to buffet breakfasts, emptying the mini-bars and taking paperwork and telephones out of rooms
Free tea and coffee sachets will be quarantined for 48 hours after use, while the rooms themselves will be left empty for 24 hours between guests.
Visitors will be given the option to order ‘grab-and-go’ meals which can be eaten in their rooms or in social distance compliant communal areas, with Accor set to keep its hotel bars and restaurants closed initially.
Other changes include floor markers to help maintain social distancing, hand sanitiser stations and Perspex screens at reception to protect staff and customers.
With the measures in place, the chain hopes to have three-quarters of its mid-range hotels in the UK open by Autumn.
High-end sites, including London’s Savoy Hotel, will reopen at a later date, the chain says.
High-end sites, including London’s Savoy Hotel, will reopen at a later date, as will airport hotels, the chain says
Earlier this month, Adam Raphael, editor of the Good Hotel Guide, which independently reviews 850 hotels, inns and B&Bs in Great Britain and Ireland, said as many as ‘three-quarters of hospitality businesses were ready to reopen on July 4’.
But those who are planning a getaway can expect hotels to be significantly different to those they visited before the coronavirus outbreak.
After making your reservation, visitors should expect a pre-visit health questionnaire to land in their inbox, asking if they have recently had coronavirus symptoms.
Check-in times are likely to be staggered, or set later in the afternoon, to allow for deep cleaning of rooms. At the seven-strong collection of The Pig Hotels in south-west England, for example, this has switched from 3 pm to 4 pm.
Valet parking and baggage handling could also be a thing of the past, though luggage may be disinfected on arrival.
Protective screens, distance-marking lines and one-way routes may be implemented in larger properties.
Hotel bars, if they are opened, will likely be table service only, while dining tables will be arranged to satisfy the two-metre rule, and probably be without linen.
Room service is also encouraged with many properties dropping the tray charge. Menu choices are likely to be restricted and delivery will be only to the bedroom door.
It comes as Boris Johnson today prepares to announce that cinemas, pubs and hairdressers will get the green light to reopen on July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by some MPs.
In a calculated gamble designed to rescue Britain’s economy, the Prime Minister will announce that key sectors including tourism and hospitality will be allowed to reopen next week for the first time since March.
But, in a sign of the risks involved, he will also warn that the changes will be reversed immediately if people abuse the new rules and the epidemic begins to take off again.
The relaxation on July 4 – Independence Day in the US – comes amid growing optimism that the virus, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, is finally reducing to manageable proportions.
Yesterday’s death toll rose by 15 – the lowest figure since March 13, ten days before the lockdown began.
Some 2.2million vulnerable people who have been ‘shielding’ for more than three months were yesterday told they could finally leave their homes from July 6.
Boris Johnson (pictured) is today set to announce that cinemas, pubs and hairdressers will get the green light to reopen on July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by some MPs
The focus of the attempted economic revival will be on activities that can take place outdoors. The July 4 date has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by some MPs according to the Daily Telegraph.
Ministers will bring forward legislation this week to give fast-track approval for pubs and restaurants to put seating outdoors, and small shops will be encouraged to set up stalls outside their premises.
The package of measures will be finalised by the Cabinet today before being announced by Mr Johnson in a statement to Parliament at lunchtime.
But government sources said that some indoor venues, including cinemas, museums and art galleries, will also be allowed to reopen next week provided they take measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Mr Johnson will also confirm the end of the two-metre rule, with businesses allowed to operate a one-metre rule as long as they introduce other measures to cut the virus risk.
At a meeting of senior ministers and officials last night, Downing Street permanent secretary Simon Case, who led a review of the rule, said case numbers were now low enough to reduce the guidance to ‘one metre plus’.
But businesses will have to take precautions such as encouraging the use of masks, seating people side by side rather than face to face, and improving ventilation.