Is it safe to stay in hotels during the pandemic?
In a recent travel update, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear: Staying home is the best way to protect yourself against the coronavirus.
If you do travel, the CDC says, sharing a rental home with people from your own household is safer than staying with friends or family who aren't from your household or staying at a hotel where you would encounter more people. The riskiest option, it says, is a hostel or other dorm-like lodging with shared sleeping areas.
Try to find a rental that guarantees a 72-hour buffer between guests, says Dr. Natascha Tuznik, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, Davis. Airbnb will require hosts to commit to enhanced cleaning by Nov. 20. That includes scrubbing floors and other surfaces with soap and water; washing linens on high heat; disinfecting high-touch items like door knobs; and ventilating rooms.
An "occupied" signs hangs in a closed hotel in Salzburg amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on Nov. 2, 2020. (Photo by BARBARA GINDL/APA/AFP via Getty Images)
Rentals might also have more access to fresh air than hotel rooms, Tuznik said. But she said there have been very few reported coronavirus outbreaks connected to hotels.
If you stay at a hotel, check to see what safety steps it’s taking. Many hotels have adopted enhanced cleaning procedures, for example, and are encouraging social distancing in common areas.
You can also use disinfectant wipes to clean the surfaces that are most touched, like light switches and faucets, Tuznik said. And consider omitting housekeeping services to ensure fewer people enter the room.
Outside the room, experts suggest avoiding common areas and taking the stairs instead of the elevator if you can.