Updated Health and Safety Plans: MGM, HVMG and More

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—As the hotel industry readies for its reopening from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of companies are implementing new cleanliness and safety protocols so that they will be ready for the return of employees and staff. Here are some of them:

MGM Resorts Reveals Health and Safety Plan
MGM Resorts International has released comprehensive health and safety protocols the company is implementing prior to reopening its domestic properties and resorts, which were temporarily closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MGM Resorts’ “Seven-Point Safety Plan” is a multilayered set of protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to deter the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees and rapidly respond to potential new cases.

MGM Resorts is working with Dr. Shannon Magari, as its lead health and safety advisor for this process. Dr. Magari is the VP of health sciences for Colden Corporation, an occupational health, safety and environmental firm.

These protocols and procedures focus on balancing customer service with the urgent need to apply knowledge about COVID-19 and adapt environments accordingly. This plan is being implemented at MGM Resorts properties throughout the U.S., with additions and changes being made based on local jurisdictions. The Seven-Point Safety Plan is as follows:

1. Screening, Temperature Checks and Employee Training: MGM Resorts has implemented employee-screening measures to assess signs and symptoms of infection and whether the employee resides or cares for someone who has recently been diagnosed with the virus. Employees are currently and will continue to go through temperature checks before entering properties.

Guests will be asked to abide by a similar self-screening protocol prior to arriving and during their stay. Guests who have reason to believe they may have been exposed to the virus are strongly urged to follow CDC guidelines for self-quarantine and not travel.

2. Mandatory Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): All MGM Resorts employees will be provided and required to wear an approved mask when on our properties. Guests will also be encouraged to wear masks in public areas and MGM will offer masks to any guests who need one, free of charge. Gloves will continue to be worn by employees who require them to do their jobs, such as food handlers and employees who clean public areas. Additional categories of employees required to wear PPE will be identified by medical experts. MGM will ask guests to minimize the amount of time masks are removed when drinking on the casino floor and to refrain from eating on the casino floor to minimize the amount of time masks are removed.

2. Physical Distancing: A 6-ft. physical distancing policy will be in place, wherever feasible, with floor guides serving as reminders throughout MGM Resorts properties. From time to time, 6-ft. distancing will be challenging–and in those cases, reasonable mitigating protocols will be implemented, such as plexiglass barriers or eye protection for employees. Signage will be installed throughout properties to guide employees and guests on how to safely practice physical distancing.

3. Handwashing and Enhanced Sanitization: Prior to property closures in March, MGM Resorts implemented increased and enhanced routine cleaning, based on CDC guidelines, with a focus on high-touch surfaces in common areas. Electrostatic sprayers will be used in many large areas to apply disinfectant more efficiently.

In addition, custom-built handwashing stations with soap and water, along with hand-sanitizing stations, will be readily available in high traffic areas and with a visible presence. Signage will be installed to guide and remind employees and guests of the importance of proper handwashing protocols.

5. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Controls and Air Quality: MGM Resorts has reviewed the operation of HVAC systems to identify additional opportunities to enhance their effectiveness. Rigorous measures in accordance with established guidelines to help mitigate the risk of virus transmission have been taken throughout our properties.

As scientific information becomes available about the virus, and as additional guidance from state and local authorities and our medical experts evolve, MGM will continue to review and adjust the operation of its HVAC systems.

6. Incident Response Protocols: MGM Resorts has protocols in place aimed at reducing the chance infection will spread. In the unfortunate event a guest or employee tests positive for the virus, MGM will activate incident response protocols to ensure the infected individual has access to medical treatment, exposed areas are thoroughly sanitized and, when possible, notify those who may have come in close, prolonged contact with the infected individual. MGM Resorts has medical and security personnel on staff to respond quickly in the event of an incident.

7. Digital Innovations: MGM Resorts is reimagining several aspects of the guest experience through technology to transition current processes into contactless options that eliminates or reduces the need for waiting in line.

  • Contactless Check-In: Guests will have the ability to complete the check-in process entirely themselves through the MGM Resorts mobile app. This includes the ability to process payment, verify identification and obtain a digital room key, all through a mobile device. If preferred, physical keys will be available through self-serve key encoders. Employees will be available for guests who prefer check-in without using their mobile device, while still maintaining a line-reduced environment.
  • F&B: Digital menus will be available to view on personal mobile devices via QR code. Virtual queues will be in place for guests when immediate seating is unavailable. Guests will receive a text message notification when their table is ready.

HVMG Launches Trust & Preparedness Plan
Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG) has launched its Trust & Preparedness Plan, a comprehensive, guest and associate safety and sanitation program that has been implemented across its entire portfolio of 47 hotels and one convention center in 17 states, totaling 7,773 guestrooms.

The HVMG Trust & Preparedness Plan was written to provide clear directions to all of the company’s properties with regard to COVID-19 ongoing preparedness and prevention measures to ensure associate and guest safety.  Protocols range from the installation of hand-sanitizer stations in all public spaces to having all associates wearing masks. Additional instructions on sanitizing rooms and public spaces are explained, as are steps to take if a guest or associate tests positive for the coronavirus.

“In addition to compiling the most up-to-date information and best practices from a variety of sources, we have taken things a step further to ensure compliance by introducing a Certified Trust Ambassador at each hotel,” Robert Cole, president/CEO, HVMG, added. “These individuals will be trained in the most up-to-date sanitation and cleaning protocols to ensure all hotels are implementing the plan effectively and consistently. We believe this added layer of responsibility will further establish trust with all of HVMG’s stakeholders as we cautiously seek to establish ‘the new normal.’”

Moving forward, HVMG plans to build a larger Trust Council comprising both hospitality and non-industry experts to educate its team on changing guidance and emerging technology to steer the company’s safety protocols moving forward.

“As proud as we are of this document, it is not intended to be a stagnant, one-time exercise,” he said. “Our Trust & Preparedness Plan will evolve as we reach out to additional thought leaders and learn more about the coronavirus and best practices to combat it.  However, the basics of creating trust through strong safety and sanitation protocols will always be its foundation.”

HEI Hotels & Resorts Implements Extensive Health and Safety Protocols
HEI Hotels & Resorts has completed a comprehensive initiative to protect the health and safety of hotel guests and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A combination of new standard operating procedures; alterations to hotel spaces; and the purchase of disinfecting technology and personal protective equipment (PPE) has been undertaken to support proper social distancing and hygienic practices at HEI’s portfolio of more than 80 independent and branded hotels.

“There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our hotel guests and associates,” said Anthony Rutledge, HEI Hotels & Resorts CEO/managing partner. “We are taking every precaution based on the best research, using the latest technology and rewriting operating procedures to meet the highest standards for hygiene and workplace safety while maintaining the same consistent level of excellent guest service that we pride ourselves on.”

These new changes are already noticeable upon arrival at HEI managed hotels. Employees will have their temperatures checked daily before their shifts begin, and the company has secured enough PPE, including masks and gloves, to last its hotels through the end of the year.