Mask up: Marriott expands face covering requirement to more regions, with more brands likely to follow

Aug 2, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. 

While the country’s major hotel chains have required staff to wear masks for months, they are finally turning their attention toward guests.

As of July 27, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG have been requiring hotel guests to wear face coverings in public areas of hotels in the United States and Canada.

Marriott has since quietly expanded its policy to include all properties in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Marriott was the first chain to announce a mask requirement and it’s likely that its peers will follow suit with this expansion as well.

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On Monday, July 20, Marriott became the first chain to announce a start date for the new mask requirement policy, when president and CEO Arne Sorenson said the mandate would go into effect on July 27. Hyatt, IHG and Hilton have joined Marriott in announcing similar requirements shortly after.

This requirement will be in effect for “the foreseeable future” at Hyatt hotels in the two North American nations, according to a statement from the brand.

“Guests who are not wearing face coverings indoors will be asked to wear one, and at all Hyatt hotels, face masks will be made available to guests who do not have one,” a Hyatt spokesperson told TPG.

These individual announcements come on the heels of a new set of guidelines for hotel guests released late last week by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). Known as the “Stay Safe Guest Checklist,” it calls for, among other best practices, a face-covering requirement for guests in public spaces.

Other large players in the hotel industry including Loews Hotels & Co., Radisson Hotel Group and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts have endorsed the plan released by the AHLA as well. A spokesperson for Loews told TPG that the chain has been requiring guests to wear face masks in public areas of its properties since it restarted operations.

The majority of the guidelines in AHLA’s Stay Safe Guest Checklist have already been part of existing pandemic policies hotels began implementing several months ago. These include stepped-up cleaning protocols, social distancing in public spaces, sanitization stations, contactless food-delivery options, increased use of mobile check-in, check-out, digital keys and more.

Related: What your hotel stay will look like after coronavirus

These plans required staff at the country’s major hotel chains to wear face coverings while working for months, though now they are finally turning their attention toward guests — and that’s not surprising. The U.S. has seen a major resurgence in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections since lockdown restrictions were lifted.

With the pandemic still very much a public health concern, the industry is shifting more of the responsibility to practice safe travel habits onto guests with the mask requirement for indoor public areas.

The hotel industry joins the airline industry with these mask mandates. All major airlines now require passengers to wear a mask while flying, and many have said they’ll consider banning passengers who do not comply.

Delta recently said it will ask anyone who refuses to wear a mask to consult with medical personnel before flying.

Bottom line

We’ve seen many states, territories and high-profile retailers announce face-covering requirements of their own as the numbers of infections continue to spike across the nation.

Now, the nation’s hotel chains — deeply affected by the travel-industry crisis that’s resulted from this pandemic — are joining together to do what they can to continue the modest recovery the industry has seen over the summer months and, more importantly, to protect their team members and guests from contracting COVID-19.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski

Featured image by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.

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