The United Kingdom’s hospitality industry is playing an important role in the fight against the novel coronavirus by providing accommodations for frontline key workers.
The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers says one of its members, SITU, has donated the free use of 12 apartments for three months while another member has met a request from the London Fire Brigade for accommodation for firefighters coming off 12-hour shifts.
Up to 24 fire brigade staff can be housed at one time in self-contained accommodation near their workplace in the London ward of Royal Docks.
Since the UK outbreak of novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes started, frontline key workers have struggled to find suitable, safe accommodation close to their workplaces where they can spend time away from vulnerable family members after long shifts.
James Foice, chief executive officer of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers, said: “When we realized how hard it was to find suitable places to live during the crisis, we knew serviced apartments could offer key workers an ideal solution – especially as they offer kitchens and laundry facilities, so residents can completely isolate themselves from other people. We are working with a range of bodies including the (National Health Service) and a number of councils across the country, and finding accommodation is needed in a hurry for everyone from frontline keyworkers and the emergency services, to families fleeing domestic violence and rough sleepers who need to be helped off the streets.”
While most hotels have remained closed during the COVID-19 lockdown, the luxury hotel Claridge’s in London reopened its doors to key workers from April 3, after closing at the end of March because of government advice.
Up to 40 doctors, nurses and other key staff from St Mary’s Hospital in London have been given free accommodation, breakfast, and dinner at the 208-year-old hotel in Mayfair, where bedrooms usually cost from 650 pounds ($804) a night.
Most of the key workers are offered “comfortable refuge” for five days. Claridge’s has also been preparing 500 meals a day for six hospitals across London since the beginning of April.
Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Group, which runs Claridge’s, said: “Just as it has in the past world wars, Claridge’s has a duty to step up and support the people of London. Teams from all our hotels have volunteered to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time. We are forever in their debt.”
In partnership with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Intercontinental Hotels Group has offered 300 rooms to homeless people for 12 weeks since March 21, so they can self-isolate during the novel coronavirus crisis. Those rooms are provided at a substantially discounted rate.