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The Curve Has Flattened; What Does the “Interim Normal” mean for Hotel Operations? – by Karen Johnson, ISHC, MAI, CRE

April 15, 2020 4:47 pm

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Though the arc of people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 is going up as more individuals are tested, the curve of the average daily death toll appears to have flattened.  Which indicates that the act of social distancing will keep our ICU capacity from being overwhelmed as it was in Hunan and Italy. We can only hope.

click on image below to enlarge:

Source:  Johns Hopkins University, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and the LA times

Assuming the US can get enough testing capacity to determine the true infection and mortality percentages, and plans are devised to move equipment where it is needed, things could get back to the “new normal” or at least an “interim normal” fairly soon.

There is much speculation as to when we will re-open the economy as well as on possible second waves, as happened in Toronto after the first SARs outbreak. Until a vaccine is found, infection rates will likely increase when lockdowns are rolled back.  Countries about to lift lockdown restrictions are staging re-openings that put hotels and then conventions/meetings at the very end of the list.  Most hotel owners cannot afford to wait.

The US hotel industry has offered to house first responders, provide additional beds for non-critical, non-communicable patients, recovering Covid-patients, and even the homeless.  Thankfully, very little assistance has been required in those areas.

How do hotels create opportunities aligned with keeping society safe while still reviving our businesses?

What if US hotels focused on quarantine-safe re-integration efforts?  Some households have both vulnerable and non-vulnerable members.  What if hotels offered a low-cost or government-subsidized “safe haven” extended stay lodging in which vulnerable cohorts were only admitted after testing negative?  For those too frail to leave home but with family members that need to be out in the world, other hotels could offer transient lodging with “in-and-out privileges” to spare that cohort the fear of bringing the virus home.  Yes, families would be split, and visiting would happen across plexiglass shields.  Not ideal, but neither is destroying families thru economic ruin.  Now is the time for hotels to plan for the “interim normal” while social distancing is here to stay.