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HVAC Legislation Loophole May Compromise Quarantine Hotels

HVAC Legislation Loophole May Compromise Quarantine Hotels
04 February 2021

A building intelligence specialist is warning that there is an HVAC legislation loophole within hotels which may facilitate the further spread of COVID within quarantine hotels. 

New rules mean that British people returning from 33 countries will have to quarantine in hotels, a technique already in use across Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Currently, there is no legislation that governs the state of the internal air quality and the management of HVAC plant in hotels. This reveals a gap in the fight to make hotels COVID-secure, compounded by the fact that many hotel rooms do not have easily openable windows, which makes it hard to introduce sufficient quantities of fresh air. 

Horizon Controls, the building intelligence architects, is also concerned that poorly maintained HVAC can be a facilitator for COVID flow around a building and if so, does this mean quarantined hotels become incubators for the disease.


“We’ve got all these contacts in other countries that have already rolled this out for some time. They could offer some really valuable support and we’re just simply kept in the dark.”

–Rob Paterson

CEO, Best Western Hotels UK


Delay Over Quarantine Hotel Start Date


As reported by BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, hotel chains are at a loss as to when mandatory quarantine for people travelling into the UK will begin.

The CEO of chain Best Western Hotels UK, Rob Paterson, told the BBC that the industry hasn’t received any clear guidelines or even a start date for the policy. He described the lack of communication:

“We’ve offered that help, we’ve got a lot of experience with quarantine, in managing COVID-positive environments through the project we did with the NHS.

“We’ve got all these contacts in other countries that have already rolled this out for some time. They could offer some really valuable support and we’re just simply kept in the dark.”


Indoor Air Quality Advice


Horizon Controls advises that there are a number of ways hotel groups and hoteliers can ensure their hotels are COVID secure, these include:


  • Ventilation – recirculated air from split air conditioning units, fan coils or any system that runs with a recirculation mode should be avoided where possible, unless in a single occupancy room with no one else present. If recirculation is unavoidable, increase the number of air changes possible with outdoor air exchange by opening windows, if possible and safe to do so.
  • Maintenance – it is imperative to ensure that any lapsed maintenance regime during lockdown is kept up to date on reopening as a quarantine only hotel. The maintenance of HVAC units and central plant in particular for leaks, legionella and dirty filters.
  • Guest changeover regime – as well as deep cleaning of surfaces it is important to instil a new HVAC systems maintenance and service routine between guests with in-room filter, coil and water trays are given particular attention.
  • Air Flow – Monitor airflow in common areas as quarantine guests may inadvertently make corridors a holding bay for Covid when bedroom doors are opened to collect food deliveries.
  • Sensors – Install sensors to monitor carbon dioxide, humidity and pollutants to validate and alert on VOC levels in the rooms.
  • Embrace technology – Invest in IoT technologies and central BMS control solutions to help hoteliers remotely manage and maintain equipment to ensure that the internal air quality within each room is COVID secure.

Picture: a photograph of a bed in a hotel room

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 04 February 2021


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