Forward March is a common method used in hotel and restaurant operating sectors. Hygiene, food safety… controlling it, especially in these times of health crisis, is essential for managers in the sector.
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This article was written with three hands: I was helped by two head housekeepers of profession, one from Martinique, the other from Paris.
Nadine DINTIMILLE, Head Housekeeper SQUASH HOTEL, Martinique
Victoria CHEVAILLIER, Floor Manager & Service Provider for Parisian Hotels
In a proposal for a post-Covid-19 health charter in the tourism sector, the Alliance Française Tourisme issued a 28-page Memorandum at the end of the containment.
The detailed Health Charter proposes transverse solutions to the different tourism sectors, converging towards a « common core », dense and abstract, applicable to all the actors.
The Charter’s driving force is to provide concrete responses to health issues for the various stakeholders:
– The clients.
– The employees.
– Suppliers, service providers and subcontractors.
Concerning employees in the tourism sector, the Charter distinguishes between :
– Employees in regular contact with customers (or « front office »).
– Employees without contact with customers (or « back-of-house »).
The Charter sets out specific proposals for certain sectors of activity, particularly in the hotel industry.
« These measures, which are specific exclusively to the commercial professional accommodation sector, are in addition to the measures applicable to the entire tourism industry.
Each group or establishment invents its own operational processes in its Anti-Covid approach, each one has its own personal vision of the March Forward revisited.
Most hotel groups and some independents are accompanied by an audit firm.
Labels have been created, Accor has developed a domestic and international label with Bureau Veritas, B & B Hotels and the independent hotels Paris Inn have formed a partnership with Socotec.
Nevertheless, the implementation of the Post-Covid Forward Walk, particularly among independent hotels, is adapted in a very empirical way from one establishment to another.
What are the concrete implementations and impacts on the Forward Walk in the Independent Hotel Industry?
The Forward Principle
The famous « Marche en Avant » is a principle of hygiene, deployed in a quality approach.
It applies to the hotel, restaurant and hospital sectors.
The rule: healthy products must not cross the path of soiled products.
In the catering sector, the premises are compartmentalized with method, ideally :
– Goods receiving and unpacking area.
– Washing area for vegetables.
– Hot and cold preparation area and according to specialities.
– Storage area for finished products.
– Alternative path for waste and insulated waste area.
– Alternative path for products to be stored and storage area for basic products.
Eliminating crossovers in the chain of soiled or unsuitable products is the objective of the Forward Walk.
Throughout the production process and at each operational stage, the product remains healthy.
In the hotel industry, the reasoning and procedures are the same for bedroom, bathroom or table linen.
Transporting dirty linen in a basket or bag identical to clean linen means re-contaminating the clean one with the deposits generated by the dirty one.
The Post-Covid Forward March
Before Covid, the Floor Staff had to wear a pair of gloves when cleaning the Bathrooms.
Wearing gloves made the staff safer by protecting them from the use of chemicals and toxic products.
In the Pre-Covid era, only bathroom safety gloves were mandatory.
Now, three pairs of gloves are mandatory:
– One pair of gloves to take the waste and dirty laundry out of the room.
– One pair of gloves to bring back clean linen and hospitality products.
– One pair of gloves to clean the bathroom and protect yourself from chemical agents (originally only safety gloves were mandatory).
As part of staff training, several pairs of gloves are required for maids.
The Staff enters the room, masked, adorned with a charlotte.
Depending on the category of the hotel, generally from 3*, they can wear an additional protective gown.
The Staff opens the window(s) of the room, those of the bathroom or activates the ventilation system (vmc).
They collect the used bed linen and towels and stores them in an airtight bag.
The reception products are systematically thrown away, hence the need to put less than before Covid.
They throw the first pair of gloves in the trash can outside the room.
The Staff takes a second pair of gloves.
They first run hot water over all the sanitary facilities and then apply the virucidal products in the bathroom.
They rub everywhere with a clean sponge (new each time for the high-end sector).
Sensitive corners in the bathrooms are to be cleaned carefully before and after Covid :
The shower trap, the top and bottom of the soap holder, the ventilation grid, in France: dust on bathroom radiators.
Vinegar is preferred on taps when there is too much limescale in the bathroom (also in the kettle to remove limescale).
Although much appreciated for its natural and effective character, vinegar is not virucidal, therefore not anti-Covid.
The classic codes of microfibers and sponges are of different colors:
– Microfibers and sponges in red color are intended for WC toilets 🟥
– Microfiber sponge set in green color are for sink and tub/shower 🟩
– Blue microfibers reserved for cleaning the room 🟦
The color system is a widespread and mnemonic means for Floor Staff.
The codes are reflected in the colors of the packaged cleaning products:
the red products are for the sanitary, the green products for the washbasins, the blue ones for the room … is for the sanitary, for the green washbasins.
The color code allows to avoid cleaning with the same supports the WC and the washbasin, for example.
One of the roles of the housekeeper is to enforce these codes.
While the product is acting in the bathroom, the Floor Staff take off their gloves and make the bed.
To do so, they change the protective pads on the mattress and cushions.
High-end post-Covid revolution: no longer at each Departure, i.e. redoing a White Room, but now at each Recouche.
The Palaces bring out the heavy artillery, such as the Hôtel de Crillon and its anti-Covid guns,
also provided with a 60-page Health Charter co-authored with the Apave audit firm.
Sheets are changed systematically even when a room is made.
Same for the bathroom linen (bath and bath towels, floor mats, terry cloth squares) in 4* and 5*.
In 3* and below, the Customer has the choice of an « à la carte » cleaning to reduce maintenance costs.
In this case, two pairs of gloves are used to manage the overlay.
Finally, the Staff proceeds with the dusting of the room: headboard, bedside tables, interior and exterior lamps, baseboards, cupboards, doors…
clockwise so as not to omit anything, such as the underside of the bed.
The Person throws the second pair of gloves into the outside garbage can and then uses the third pair.
They clean the bathroom to avoid damaging his/her hands and rinses everything with hot water.
They go on with the wiping of each bathroom, with the different supports.
The staff installs the towels and places the bathroom amenities in the position desired by the hotel.
They use their mop with a broom impregnated with the product and clean their bathroom floor.
The Upstairs service classically alternates two sweeping brushes.
While he uses a shaving broom on one room, they let the other broom soak and disinfect in the Office.
On their way out, they vacuum the room and leaves after checking his self-checking card.
They regularly (every 4 hours maximum) throw their masks into the dedicated garbage cans.
Depending on the category and positioning of the establishment, the room will be controlled by a housekeeper who is now masked and gloved.
She will be able to embellish it with a note from the management, additional welcome gifts and special attentions, as well as impeccable hygiene.
Where do we go from here?
In 4*, the average cleaning was 12 rooms before Covid, after Covid it will be reduced.
The cleaning time has increased: each room has to be redone automatically or on demand.
Processes have multiplied, especially with the use of triple gloves.
The total cleaning of the bathroom linen and sheets involves an additional cost.
What about the impact on Average Prices?
– The Essential Gestures for the Staff :
To make the bed, position of the knight serving for your Staff. One knee on the ground and one knee to raise so as to have a straight back.
When the Staff bends in all cases, he lowers both knees and keeps his back straight (i.e. training Gestures & Postures UMIH Martinique).
– Chemical Contamination :
In addition to the principle of forward motion that banishes the mixing of dirty and clean, avoid mixing clean and chemical by arranging the products together.
If the floor is carpeted, remember to place a towel underneath the bunk to prevent the toxic products from spilling onto the floor.
Also in the Staff bunks, do not mix the host products with the cleaning products.