New San Francisco Ordinance Requires Daily Cleaning of Hotel Guest Rooms

Ordinances mandating daily cleaning of hotel guest rooms have surfaced in several major cities. Both ordinances have been proposed since the coronavirus pandemic; an emergency ordinance in San Francisco has passed while another in Phoenix was proposed but pulled off a city council introduction calendar.

In early July, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a hotel cleaning ordinance requiring all large non-city-owned commercial office buildings and tourist hotels to comply with heightened and more frequent cleaning and employee training regulations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the California Hotel & Lodging Association and the Hotel Council of San Francisco have filed suit to overturn the ordinance.  The industry groups have raised objections that the new law puts hotel employees and guests at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, fails to align with CDC guidelines for hotels, will delay workers’ return to work and adds costly and unnecessary cleaning requirements to a single industry while exempting all public buildings to similar standards.

Who and What’s Covered?

The ordinance applies to any “tourist hotel” or “large commercial office building” located in the city. Specifically:

  • A tourist hotel is defined as any building or set of buildings containing six or more guest rooms or suites that are intended for commercial tourism by providing accommodation to transient guests on a nightly basis or longer.
  • A large commercial office building includes any building or set of buildings with more than 50,000 square feet of office space. The ordinance exempts buildings owned by the city, state or federal government. 

The ordinance defines employees as full-time and part-time employees, casual or on-call employees and independent contractors and their employees who perform work at a covered building, whether employed or hired directly by the operator or by another entity.

Frequent Cleaning

Most hotels during the coronavirus pandemic are conducting enhanced cleaning of a guest room when a guest checks out, and only cleaning daily upon request of the guest.  This is to limit the frequency of possible exposure and risk to the employee.  The new SF ordinance requires:

  • daily cleanings of guest rooms unless a guest specifically requests otherwise,
  • forbids hotels from offering incentives for guests to opt out of daily cleaning, and 
  • mandates hotels and large office buildings to clean and disinfect “high-contact” areas — including lobbies, hallways, restrooms and elevators, multiple times per day.

The ordinance requires identified “high-contact areas, items, and fixtures” be cleaned and disinfected multiple times daily.  Those include public and areas, elevators, stairways and escalators, restrooms, doors, meeting rooms, bar and dining areas, shipping and receiving areas and high use devices such as telephones, credit card readers, switches, touch screens, etc.

Training, Cleaning and Testing Requirements: 

  • Employees must be provided with “comprehensive and ongoing training” as to the new standards and equipment, including proper use of cleaning and disinfectant products. Trainings must also cover how the virus is spread, prevented and its symptoms, and be conducted during paid time.
  • Employers must provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at no cost to employees.
  • Operators must also provide testing for COVID-19, free of charge, to an employee if the Department of Public Health recommends it. This testing is considered paid time off.
  • The ordinance also mandates protocol if there is reason to believe that a guest room was occupied by someone infected with COVID-19.

Although the ordinance is temporary, for a 60-day period the Board of Supervisors has the option to extend it through a simple majority vote. To read the San Francisco ordinance, click here.

In Phoenix, a proposed ordinance mandating sanitation training, paid sick leave and mandatory breaks was pulled off a city council agenda prior to the meeting.

Your local government affairs team is closely monitoring developments with these policies and will keep you informed.

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