April 20, 2021

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Your guide to avoiding Covid-19 while staying at a hotel

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Editor’s Note — There are few no-risk activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Fully vaccinated people are, of course, at much lower risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus than people who haven’t been vaccinated. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen advises approaching your activity decisions with that in mind.

(CNN) — After a long year or more of sticking close to home, escaping to a stunning destination and a fancy hotel room may rank high on your to-do list.

Staying in a hotel is very low-risk if you’re vaccinated, separated from other people, and going straight to and from your room, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

If you’re not traveling alone, “you certainly should not be sharing a hotel room with someone who is not in your immediate household, unless the other person is fully vaccinated,” Wen said.

Staying in a hotel can be less risky than other activities since you have your own room, but you still need to be careful in common areas.

Staying in a hotel can be less risky than other activities since you have your own room, but you still need to be careful in common areas.

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Before you arrive

Many hotel protocols have changed during the pandemic, so you should check the hotel’s website or call for information on its safety precautions.

Ask about the property’s new cleaning and disinfecting procedures and whether all staff members are wearing masks.

Many hotels have cut down on housekeeping and food and beverage services to limit guests’ contact with people outside their group. Contactless online check-in, checkout and payment are also frequently available, in addition to mobile room keys.

Additionally, inquire about ventilation quality — opening windows and doors, using window fans, having properly operating ventilation systems and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems that enhance air cleaning are a few good signs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on the ventilation quality, you should also ask about when other guests or cleaning staff were last in your room, said Krystal Pollitt, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and an assistant professor in chemical and environmental engineering at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“Much of the time that we’re recommending between occupants within a space is related to what that (ventilation) system is able to handle in terms of air changes per hour,” Pollitt said. “Typically, even if it’s 15 minutes spacing out, if it’s a modern building with mechanical ventilation, we find (that) to be sufficient.”

During your stay

While at the hotel, be cautious about both your safety and that of the hotel staff. Coronavirus spreads via respiratory droplets during close physical contact and through the air. Avoid or wear a mask in places where you might be sharing air or space with other people, such as elevators, indoor bars, dining areas and lobbies — even if people are distanced.

Minimize use of recreational spaces, including hot tubs and lounging areas, that would put you in close contact with others, the CDC has advised.

Carry disinfectant wipes to clean objects before and after you touch them, said Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Of course, you need to eat, but avoiding a hotel’s indoor dining room or restaurant is still safest. Packing your food, ordering delivery, getting takeout (or room service) or dining outdoors, while physically distanced at least 6 feet apart, is best.

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