The government’s plans to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine expose a loophole in HVAC legislation within hotels, according to a building intelligence firm.
Building intelligence architectural practice Horizon Controls warns that there is currently no legislation governing the state of the internal air quality and the management of HVAC plant in hotels.
This reveals “a gap in the fight to make hotels Covid-secure” compounded by the fact that “many hotel rooms do not have easily openable windows, which makes it hard to introduce sufficient quantities of fresh air”.
Horizon Controls is also concerned that poorly maintained HVAC could be a facilitator for Covid flow around a building and, if so, whether this means that quarantined hotels become incubators for the disease.
The firm says there are a number of ways that hotel groups and hoteliers can make sure their hotels are Covid-secure. These include:
- Ventilation: an important factor in preventing the spread of Covid. Recirculated air from split air conditioning units, fan coils or any system that runs with a recirculation mode should be avoided where possible, unless in a single-occupancy room with no one else present. If recirculation is unavoidable, increase the number of air changes possible with outdoor air exchange by opening windows, if possible and safe to do so.
- Maintenance: it is imperative to ensure that any lapsed maintenance regime during lockdown is kept up to date on reopening as a quarantine-only hotel. The maintenance of HVAC units and the central plant should pinpoint leaks, legionella and dirty filters.
- Guest changeover regime: as well as deep cleaning of surfaces it is important to instil a new HVAC systems maintenance and service routine between guests with in-room filter, ensuring that coil and water trays are given particular attention.
- Monitor airflow in common areas as quarantine guests may inadvertently make corridors a holding bay for Covid when bedroom doors are opened to collect food deliveries.
- Install sensors to monitor carbon dioxide, humidity and pollutants to validate and alert on VOC levels in the rooms.
- Embrace technology: invest in IoT technologies and central BMS control solutions to help hoteliers remotely manage and maintain equipment to ensure that the internal air quality within each room is Covid-secure.
The government announced last week that UK citizens and resident arriving from 33 coronavirus hotspots will – at some point soon – be forced into hotel quarantine for 10-day stints.
Rob Paterson, the UK chief executive of Best Western, told the Guardian that the chain had made multiple offers to help with the isolation plans but hadn’t received a response.