Recommendations for the Hotel Sector

 In COVID-19, Information for Businesses

We’ve had to close our hotel. Now what?

How do I ensure proper monitoring for Legionella risk?

Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting risk of viral pneumonia (COVID-19), most hotels have had to close down their infrastructure completely or partially due to low or no use. NSF, your public health and safety specialist, would like to share some tips on how to manage this urgent situation and answer any questions you have now or when you restart your building operations.

What is Legionella and what is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious, potentially life-threatening pulmonary disease caused by the Legionella bacteria. This bacterium is appearing more and more frequently because it thrives in some of our water supply systems such as cooling towers, air-conditioning equipment, baths with water jets, whirlpools or jacuzzis, hot water pipes, etc.

How does Legionella develop?

Legionella develops and spreads in different ways:

  • In stagnant water
  • At a temperature between 20° C and 60° C
  • In the presence of limescale
  • In the presence of residues of metal corrosion (such as iron and zinc)
  • In mud and other mineral sediments (such as in the sediment in a hot water reservoir, the bottom of cooling towers, the lowest points of piping systems, etc.)
  • In bacteriological biofilms

Do you need to take immediate preventive actions?

Under normal circumstances there is regular circulation of water in the pipes. If the rooms are not occupied, it is advisable to let the water run for a few minutes every day. It may not be currently possible to perform this operation due to lack of technical staff. In this case, keep the water temperature as low as possible in order to prevent bacterial development.

Do I need to continue disinfecting the water circulation?

Legionella develops at a temperature between 20° C and 60° C. It does not survive above 70° C. In addition to this type of thermal shock, other water disinfection measures must be maintained, such as ultraviolet light, continuous chlorine or chlorine dioxide treatments, and copper-silver ionization. It is recommended to regularly check the functioning of these treatments as the lower the Legionella layer, the higher the effectiveness of the treatment.

Should we forbid access to changing rooms, saunas, hot tubs, etc.?

All areas containing showers, hot tubs, saunas, steam baths, hammams, swimming pools and wellness areas must be closed and any client or staff still on-site must be prohibited from entering. It should also be forbidden to continue to use sanitary facilities for staff such as showers, washbasins, changing rooms, etc. There is a real risk.

What should you do if the situation normalizes?

If the government confirms that the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained and we can possibly switch back to normal operations, you can restart the building water systems by gradually increasing the temperature in all hot water circuits to at least 65° C. Ideally, you should then open all taps in all unoccupied rooms so that there is a flow of hot water at 65° C for at least 15 minutes.

How do you measure the effect of your preventive actions?

It is strongly recommended to take more samples for Legionella detection in the closed rooms and floors. This volume should be greater than what is foreseen in the annual control plan. It is dangerous and would be irresponsible to limit sampling to one or two samples for the entire hotel. In addition, it is advisable to carry out a full audit of  the building water systems to ensure that the Legionella risk is fully under control again. This is the only way to fully reassure your customers, who have become particularly sensitive to the microbiological safety of water.

And what about the future?

This pandemic will leave deep scars on our modern society. Citizens will be more aware than ever of the risks associated with bacteria and viruses. Both governments and private companies will have to meet these expectations. It would be unacceptable for this pandemic to be followed by a Legionella epidemic. We would like to underline that this is also a disease with a high mortality rate, especially for persons with reduced or fragile immunity (older populations).


How do you effectively clean / disinfect rooms and equipment?

We know that the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can survive for one to three days on plastic, metal, door handles, plumbing, air vents, etc. but also on telephones, computer mice or keyboards. It is therefore important that you use products that have a confirmed antiviral effect.

This means a solution containing at least 60% alcohol or, if this is not available, you can use bleach that you will find on the market. Important: Take the necessary precautions before use (wear gloves and a mask, wash hands with soap and water).

This information is based on the knowledge currently available on the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Do not hesitate to contact us and consult our website for more information as data is evolving very rapidly. Also check out these additional resources:

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