“There are redundant requirements for businesses”: how hoteliers preparing to “please” Rospotrebnadzor
What awaits the hotel industry in 2021: the recommendations of sanitary doctors will become requirements that will seriously hit businesses
The Russian government has allowed Rospotrebnadzor's recommendations on COVID-19 for businesses to be made mandatory. However, as Realnoe Vremya found out, representatives of a number of affected industries expect serious losses with the introduction of these requirements, for example, in the hotel industry. In the context of the pandemic, hoteliers in Tatarstan, as well as in Russia as a whole, suffered heavy losses. In the new year, the situation has begun to improve-largely due to the work of hotels during the New Year holidays. According to Gulnara Safina, the president of the Association of Hoteliers of Kazan and Tatarstan, “there has been a good load” these days — 69%, the industry has gradually begun to revive. However, other problems loomed on the horizon, which can lead to new rules of sanitary doctors.
Recommendations will become rules
In the first working days of January, entrepreneurs and representatives of Rospotrebnadzor discussed the recommendations on COVID-19, which at the end of the year Mikhail Mishustin allowed to make mandatory for businesses. Back in the spring, sanitary doctors prepared about 40 methodological recommendations on how to ensure that organisations in various fields work safely for consumers and employees in the context of the pandemic.
However, “these recommendations are not always and everywhere implemented today”, complained the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova. Therefore, the Russian prime minister instructed to make recommendations the requirements: “Please work out the issue of making them as sanitary rules that are mandatory," Mishustin said in late November. But he called for developing these rules together with the business community and industry organisations. This is exactly the kind of meeting we had last week.
Gulnara Safina, the president of the Association of Hoteliers of Kazan and Tatarstan, was one of the participants in the discussion of the new sanitary rules. She told Realnoe Vremya about some of the upcoming changes, as well as what hotel owners are concerned about.
“All public sectors have recommendations from Rospotrebnadzor concerning, for example, the distance of 1,5 meters, the wearing of masks and gloves. Now the discussions are underway to make all these recommendations have the status of sanitary rules. This is a slightly different situation. Because if these are recommendations, then there may not be penalties, you can limit yourself to warnings, but you will have to strictly follow the rules. Now the discussion is underway at the level of the republic," Safina explained.
“There are redundant requirements for businesses”
At the same time, hoteliers recognise that many of the recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor really need to be followed in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. However, among them, there are those that cause a lot of questions and only bewilderment, and their compliance in practice is impossible.
“Since May, we have been forced to do irrigation of carpets with disinfectants. However, there are surfaces that can be irrigated with water, and there are, for example, carpet that dries for a long time. It will take at least 6-8 hours to do this. Second, such water treatment with certain chemical agents is used in exceptional cases, when a terrible stain appears and it cannot be removed. Carpet is not designed for such daily cleaning — it is very expensive and can deteriorate. In such rooms, it is better to carry out dry cleaning, in addition, we have ventilation, portable recirculators and UV irradiation," says the head of the association.
Gulnara Safina notes that the owners of hotels and hostels themselves take all necessary measures to avoid the spread of infection no worse than sanitary doctors. After all, the identification of even one sick person can eventually lead to the closure of the entire hotel. Therefore, some of the Tatarstan hotels at their own expense send their employees to take Covid-19 tests almost every week.
“There are redundant requirements for businesses. For example, wearing gloves for visitors to saunas, fitness centres. Businesses are required to wear masks, gloves, and use hand sanitizer. But wearing gloves and hand sanitizing are about the same thing. We can only choose one thing. For some types of services, this is even dangerous. For example, we see that all bus drivers are wearing gloves, and they use the same gloves to take money that is dirty. Many people in the service sector work with gloves on for 6-12 hours. Under these gloves, a perfect environment is created for other microbes. There are also excesses in maintaining the distance, which is useless," Safina believes.
According to her, it is difficult to ensure control over the mandatory wearing of masks by hotel employees and customers: “We can politely ask guests to put on masks and maintain the necessary distance, but we can not force them. In the service sector, we do not even have the right to touch a guest, especially oblige them to do anything. And if these duties are fixed in the SanPiN (Sanitary Regulations and Norms), then new fines will be imposed and issued. Besides, some negligent employees may deliberately not wear a mask or gloves, for example, to take revenge on their superiors, and then the company will need to pay 300,000-400,000 rubles of a fine.”
“Let's see how well Rospotrebnadzor hears businesses”
Rospotrebnadzor has the authority to fine organisations for each violation in the amount of 400,000 rubles. Here we are talking about a different degree of responsibility, says Safina. At the last meeting at the federal level, various proposals were received to amend the rules. “Let's see how well Rospotrebnadzor hears businesses," the association noted.
On January 14, Rospotrebnadzor on its website once again strongly recommended that hotels “accommodate guests mainly single, with the exception of family”. That is, it is recommended not to accommodate people in rooms who do not contact each other in normal life, in order to avoid additional risks of infection with close contact.
If in the cases with rooms in hotels there is still some chance to stay afloat, then hostels and hotels of the fifth, fourth, third categories can simply go bankrupt, hoteliers believe.
“Following the recommendations, only families or people who arrived together can be accommodated in one room. That is, a large number of beds will be empty. The hostel just won't be able to work for three people. So, this industry, we can say, can be buried for a while. This once again proves that it is important to think through the standards of support and the rules that will be followed," Safina stressed.
The director of Bilyar hotel, Alexander Rakushev, expressed his opinion about the introduction of new sanitary standards: “The rules are created with good intentions, and they are needed at this time, but it is important not to overdo it. They should be compiled with the help of the advice of practitioners in this field.”
Requirements that have already entered into force
On January 1, 2021, the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1853 “On Approval of the Rules for the provision of hotel services in the Russian Federation” came into force. The document states that it is prohibited to provide hotel services without a Certificate of assignment of a certain category to a hotel, and also that minors who have not reached the age of 14 can be accommodated only upon presentation of a notarised consent of legal representatives.
These rules are not fundamentally new. Also, the Federal Law of February 5, 2018 and the law “On the basics of tourist activity in the Russian Federation” state that hotels that do not have a Certificate of assignment to a hotel of a certain category and whose number of rooms will be more than 15 rooms will not be allowed to hotel activities. In the new year, this certificate is also required for hotels with less than 15 rooms. Administrative liability is provided for non-compliance with the measures. The validity period of these certificates is 3 years. In 2021, there will be a massive re-classification of hotels.
The accommodation of children together with authorised representatives has also been in effect for a long time. Now the documents that will give the opportunity to create a power of attorney for children for the organisers of sports and music schools are being under discussion. Changes are expected in the documents that will relate to group children's trips.