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Running a B&B in the covid19 pandemic | cup of black coffee on a whitewashed wooden surface

Running a B&B in the Covid-19 pandemic

covid-19 running your b&b Jul 19, 2020

As B&B owners prepared to open and think about their post lockdown B&B cleaning we were bombarded with risk assessments and checklists from well meaning organisations. And reading these in detail was really quite scary from a B&B owner’s perspective.

One of the problems with risk assessments prepared by organisations such as this is that they look to address every single risk. One suggested that you should wrap sofas in communal areas in clear plastic. That’s not to say they aren’t very useful – and I’ve included some links to them in the notes for this lesson. But each business needs to assess the risk for their  own situation.

You should also note, that the health and safety executive says that you should take REASONABLE precautions to reduce the risk.

Do a risk assessment and identify where the high risk areas are and look to focus your attention there.  For example, you need to identify the points in a room that guests are likely to touch frequently, like light switches, door handles and TV controls and ensure they are sanitised. But it’s probably not necessary to sanitise items that guests are unlikely to touch such as pictures.

Here are some of the things that our Past Attendees group have decided on to start with as we open up. Note that these aren’t official guidelines, just the best solutions that we have come up with as group.

Leaving gaps between stays

It’s thought that COVID19 dies off on surfaces etc. after 72 hours. So some B&Bs have decided to leave 72 hours between one set of guests arriving and another leaving, and then just doing a normal clean. Note that there is no legal requirement to leave a gap between stays. This is an individual choice not a legal requirement.

Reducing the number of soft furnishings in the room

There are certain items in the room such as cushions and throws that will need cleaning after each set of guests if you’re not leaving 72 hours. Some B&Bs have been reducing what’s in the room or doubling up on everything, and either washing after each stay or rotating out. Another alternative is to steam clean.

Cleaning  guest rooms

The science seems to indicate that COVID19 hangs around in the air for a few hours. For this reason we’re asking guests to open windows before they leave and then leaving at least an hour before we start cleaning. 

It’s probably a good idea to wear an apron and mask, particularly when you’re removing bed linen and towels. And being careful not to throw these around too much.

Cleaning of soft surfaces such as sofas

There are a couple of options here. Either using a steam cleaner ( many members of the group have fallen in love with this DUPRAY steam cleaner! ) or using a sanitising spray. Note that sprays need to have the standard BS EN1276. Be careful of the sanitising sprays if you have pets or plan to accept them. A lot of the sprays contain benzalkonium chloride which can be poisonous to dogs and other pets.

Most B&Bs have decided to steam clean or change mattress, duvet and pillow protectors after each stay. They could then be washed or isolated for 72 hours. Bedding is quite high risk as people will  be sweating and dribbling ( sorry ) as they sleep.

Sanitising hard surfaces

Identify surfaces that guests will touch and sanitise them with a cleaner with standard EN1276.

In bathrooms you could use a steam cleaner.

No room servicing whilst a guest is staying

With increasing evidence that the virus hangs around in the air for a few hours, each time you go into a guest room you are taking a risk and also putting the guests at risk from you. So many B&Bs have decided against the daily room tidies, providing guests with a mechanism, such as a box, for exchanging dirty items such as cups and towels.

Putting in a minimum night stay rule because of all the extra cleaning time

Other Room Items

There are certain items in B&B rooms that can’t be sanitised or steam cleaned. Things such as boxes of tissues, tea tray items such as individually wrapped tea bags, spare loo rolls etc. These can be put in what I’m calling the “72 Hour Box” to allow any virus to die off.


Many B&Bs would traditionally offer a buffet table at breakfast as well as the cooked option. Obviously having different sets of guest touching serving spoons etc is a bit high risk. So these are some of the alternatives that people are offering:

  • Dispensing with the buffet altogether and asking guest to pre order buffet items
  • Having individual buffet tables if space allows
  • Where three are individual buffet tables, having single serving items such as breakfast cereal, jams and marmalades etc. Putting fruit salads etc into lidded kilner jars, milk and juice into lidded bottles

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