Relaxation ordinance for the hospitality industry has been published
Finally, the hospitality industry can re-open on 29 May 2020. The Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK) has passed an amendment to the COVID-19 relaxation-ordinance (Federal Law Gazette II No. 231/2020) allowing for, inter alia, a restart of the accommodation sector under strict conditions.
We have summarized the key points for you in Q&A form.
Will it be possible to access accommodation establishments soon?
Yes, as announced by members of the federal government, accommodation establishments will be allowed to reopen from 29 May 2020 under strict conditions.
The term ‘accommodation establishments' (Beherbergungsbetriebe) covers, for example, hotels, guest houses, overseen campsites or caravan parks, shelters and cabin vessels. Mountain and valley, water and caravans are thus covered.
What are the corner stones that need to be observed in accommodation establishments for the near future?
Obligations of the guest in the generally accessible areas of the accommodation establishment
- Observance of the "one metre distance" towards persons not belonging to the same household and towards persons who do not belong to the group of guests accommodated in the same unit (e.g. hotel room). As already learned in another context, this rule does not apply if the risk of infection can be minimised by taking appropriate protective measures to ensure spatial separation.
- Wearing a mouth-nose protection (e.g. mask or plexiglass visor) in the entrance and reception area.
Obligations for the entrepreneur and his employees
- During customer contact: wearing of a mouth-nose protection (e.g. mask or plexiglass visor) unless an appropriate protective equipment for a spatial separation of the customer and the entrepreneur / his employees with the same level of protection is in place.
For the offering of food, the relaxation regulations for the gastronomy, which have been in force since 15 May 2020, apply (see our newsletter "Relaxation in gastronomy" )
However, overnight guests have - unlike mere restaurant guests – more freedom as regards self-service: The accommodation personnel need not serve food and drinks to overnight guests (e.g. a buffet can be operated for overnight guests, food and drinks "ready to use" do not have to be pre-portioned and covered). Is the health of overnight guests less worth protecting? Not at all. This special regulation for overnight guests only applies if - as you can already guess - the risk of infection can be minimised by special hygienic precautions. We are curious to see how this rule will be implemented in practice.
Are overnight stays in dormitories and common rooms possible?
Yes, overnight stays in dormitories and common rooms are possible, provided that a distance of at least 1.5 metres is maintained amongst the overnight guests (regardless of family or household ties) unless the risk of infection can be minimised by appropriate spatial separation.
Can SPAs in accommodation establishments be reopened?
Yes, BUT: The entrepreneur must also ensure a hygienically proper operation in COVID-19 times For this purpose, the preventive hygiene measures for SPAs must be evaluated and adapted to the state of the art in such a way that the wellness area is operated in a hygienically perfect manner despite the crisis. The bathing regulations must also be adapted to the higher standards.
What about the fitness rooms in hotels?
For sports enthusiasts, the question naturally arises, especially on holiday, whether the fitness area in the hotel can be used to its full extent. Naturally, the accommodation industry cannot be treated better than generally accessible fitness studios. Access to the fitness area is allowed under the general restrictions (one-meter distance, mouth-nose protection or equivalent standard). During exercise a distance of at least 2 metres must normally be maintained towards persons outside the common household (exemptions apply for a short periods). The fitness coach must normally observe a one metre distance (exemptions apply in case of safety issues).
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