Some hotels require vaccines. Will the others follow?

As travelers prepare for their next vacation, among the essentials to pack – like a toothbrush, wallet, and phone charger – could be proof of Covid-19 vaccination, depending on where they are. reserved for sleeping.

As coronavirus cases rise again across the country, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, a small number of hotels in the United States have announced that they will require proof of vaccination from guests and staff.

Accommodation such as PUBLIC Hotel, Equinoxe Hotel and Hotel Wythe, all in New York, Urban Cowboy Lodge in Big Indian, NY, a hamlet in the Catskill Mountains, and Pilgrim’s house in Provincetown, Mass., are among the first in the United States to announce that they will require their guests to have proof of vaccination, either through a physical card or digital verification.

The precedent for hotels requiring vaccination is already set beyond the contiguous United States. In August, Puerto Rico issued an island-wide advisory vaccination mandate that requires guests and staff in all hotels, guest houses and short-term rentals, including Airbnb, to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR or antigen test performed within 72 hours of their visit. If a person stays longer than a week, they will be required to present negative tests to hotel staff every week.

Elite Island Resorts, a Florida-based company that operates a collection of all-inclusive Caribbean resorts stretching from Antigua to Panama, announced that all guests over 12 would be required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination upon arrival from September 1.

“It is imperative for us to protect the hospitals in these small island nations, and although they have had a good track record with Covid-19 so far, we must remain vigilant and all do our part to be part of the solution. “, Wrote Robert A. Barrett, founder and CEO of Elite Island Resorts, in the company’s announcement.

Although European destinations deploy various vaccination warrants, hotels generally do not require proof of vaccination. In Portugal, however, hotel guests must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

In the United States, the PUBLIC Hotel, a boutique hotel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan owned by hotel mogul Ian Schrager, earlier this month became one of the first hotels in the country to require proof of immunization of its clients and staff. The requirement will begin on September 5, with only medical and religious exemptions.

“We have to beat Covid-19 together,” Mr Schrager said in a press release announcing his decision. “After all, taking care of people is our business. We just did not see how to shoulder this responsibility without taking action. “

At Equinox Hotel New York, the luxury fitness company’s first hotel, guests will be required to show proof of their first vaccination starting September 13. Equinox also requires that on-site personnel be vaccinated.

“Equinox Hotels has always and will continue to listen to infectious disease experts as well as local governments to guide our decision making,” said Chris Norton, CEO of Equinox Hotels, in an email.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association, an industry trade group, has published safety guidelines based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes encourage employees to get vaccinated.

“AHLA urges all eligible people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including industry employees,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the association.

While industry leaders may encourage vaccination, some hospitality experts are not convinced that there will be a widespread movement of hotels requiring vaccination.

“At this stage, I don’t think we’ll see broad vaccine requirements by hotels,” said Christopher K. Anderson, professor at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

“Right now, not all major hotel brands require their employees to be vaccinated, let alone guests,” Anderson said in an email. He added that boutique hotels are likely to find vaccine testing warrants easier than large chains.

At the end of August, the largest American hotel chains, including Marriott International, Hyatt and Hilton, do not require guests to be vaccinated.

Although guests of Marriott hotels are not required to be vaccinated, proof of vaccine verification may be required by local jurisdictions, according to Sarah Brown, a spokesperson for Marriott International. And the company offers incentives for its employees to get vaccinated.

“In March, Marriott announced the creation of Immunization care program, which offers financial rewards to U.S. and Canadian associates at its managed properties who get vaccinated for Covid-19, flexibility for vaccination appointments, and education on the benefits of vaccination, ”Ms. Brown said in an email. “Employees receive the equivalent of four hours’ wages at the end of the vaccination. “

After being closed for more than a year, PUBLIC reopened in early June and experienced a significant boom in business, Mr. Schrager said.

Acknowledging the risk to businesses in forcing vaccines, he said the decision concerned his responsibility to protect his staff and customers, as well as his hotel’s future reputation.

“There are people who will not be happy,” said Mr. Schrager. “I’m not trying to force them to do something they don’t want to do. But I have the right to say: if you want to work here, if you want to come here, you must be vaccinated.

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