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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

The Housekeeping Corona Challenge!

‘Are New Event Cleaning Protocols Just Hygiene Theater?”


OCTOBER 6, 2020)

That was the one headline that describes the fight to open up events as soon as possible with the right measures in place. But what are the right measures?

Housekeeping is one of the most important pillars of a hotel or any hospitality business. Never in the spotlight except when it comes to the negative it is now in the spotlight because of Corona. And surprisingly it’s dealt with very differently!

The “new” Corona rules and regulations are not only confusing at times they are also often surprising as many of the points explained and ruled on should have been always basic cleaning routines. Instead of adding additional procedures and staff many hotels cut cleaning of areas and rooms completely with the excuse of corona. What sense does that make? Saving money?

I must have been lucky to work in hotels and cruise companies were it seems the cleaning and hygiene standards were so high that after all this years it became normal for me and I could not imagine anything below that standard.

Protective clothing for Room attendance

The plastic apron that gets changed for every room is new - the gloves we provided our housekeeping staff hopefully before. Wearing a frequently changed mask is a new must now. We need to protect our staff but should be aware that both - apron and mask - produce tremendous amounts of additional plastic garbage.

Different colored clothes to clean surfaces

This is one is a surprise for me. Didn’t we use before different clothes for toilet, for room surfaces, glasses, etc.? Of course for one room only and then a new set for the next. That is new? What was the old procedures? I don’ want to know.


Regular disinfection for public areas , handrails, surfaces as well as daily disinfection when cleaning a room is described in detail in most corona advises. Again my question? Didn’t we do that before? Should that not be a standard for every hotel?

Wash your hands often

Hoteliers like us wash their hands all the time as we have the habit of touching every lamp, surfaces, kitchen counter, carpet and everything else non stop to check if it is dusty, sticky, dirty. We wash because otherwise we would have black hands all day. I ask many friends if people really need a reminder to wash their hands and the answer is yes. I have seen it with staff often myself and I am more than happy that greeting with a hand shake are over. But now that we sneeze and cough in the elbow - everybody greets by touching elbows? Strange!

We opened and suceeded

When we opened river cruise ships this year with Corona in mind we introduced all the protective measures for staff, enforced the disinfection procedures and just checked even more often that procedures were followed. It cost extra staff. We followed normal routine with morning cleaning, linen change, afternoon checks. Housekeepers from good hotels with real standards had no problem to adjust as most if not all procedures were normal for them before.

No clean at all - is more hygenic?

One chain hotel I checked in last week had another approach. At check in I received a short lecture from a young receptionist behind plastic cover that there will be no cleaning of my room during my stay because of corona. When I ask if it depends on length of the stay the answer was “no” - as long as I stay no cleaning except if I call reception and ask for it. Other instruction were handed to me on a piece of paper.

Now that is one approach that saves on housekeeping but when it comes to daily cleaning and disinfection I prefer the old approach. Who is checking for daily maintenance, burnt out lightbulbs, chipped furniture, broken curtains, heavy spots on carpets, etc? Areas that might require disenfection? How does a room look like after a week?

No General cleaning need - is proper cleaning!

These hotels will need a good General cleaning one day. As one good seasoned Hotel Director told me once: “There is no need for General cleaning at all. Everything should be cleaned every day spotless and heavy items like the big lobby carpet for example or the Chandelier need to have their regular cleaning schedule anyhow. If there is a need for General cleaning it just means that cleaning was not done properly on a regular basis”.

Right now it seems that most of the time Government rules and advices need to be followed just because the law dictates it. Why not just come back to honest clean and hygienic housekeeping which is more demanding than whatever any government can think of?

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality and the Swiss International University earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.

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