Understanding Coronavirus in the Local Hospitality Industry…

Dale J. Venturini
President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association

With reported cases of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the state of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) wants to help you understand symptoms and safety within hospitality business operations.

How is it spread? What are the symptoms?

  • Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly by respiratory transmission; how easily is unclear.
  • Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that symptoms of COVID-19 occur within 2–14 days after exposure.
  • Preliminary data suggests that older adults and persons with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems might be at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

What should my business be doing?

  1. Insist employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home until they’re free of fever (100.4° F or greater) and any other symptoms without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines.
    • Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
    • Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
    • Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
    • Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness.
    • Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.
  2. Separate sick employees.
    • The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms upon arrival to work, or become sick during the day, should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
  3. Place posters that encourage staying home when sick; cough and sneeze etiquette; and hand hygiene and in all workplace areas where they’re likely to be seen.
  4. Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
  5. Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  6. Ensure that adequate hygiene and cleaning supplies are maintained. Place sanitizer in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
  7. Perform routine environmental cleaning:
    • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.
    • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  8. Advise any employees with travel plans to take precautionary steps:
    • Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance for each country to which you will travel.
    • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before traveling.
    • Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and promptly call a healthcare provider for advice.
    • If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country.

Additional measures and resources:

  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The CDC’s guide to Coronavirus can be found on the organization’s website. If you have any questions regarding safety in the workplace, please contact us at 401-223-1120