The following is a letter sent to The Lake Report and short-term rental operators in Niagara-on-the-Lake by NOTL Bed & Breakfast Association president David Levesque.
As most of you probably already know, the government of Ontario has allowed the short-term rental industry to resume operations, effective as of Friday, June 5.
The province responded not only to our call for help but also to all business owners whose survival depends heavily on tourism gradually restarting. With this right to resume business comes the great responsibility for each and everyone of us to do everything we can to protect our guests, ourselves, our neighbours and our community from COVID-19.
Let me start by being the first to confirm that I have made the personal decision not to reopen my own business right away despite this news. I know a lot of us, especially B&B owners, are still being hesitant in opening our home to travellers and I do want to point out that resuming business is a personal decision.
I do know some of you have already gone as far as to make the decision not to reopen at all this year, some others feel more comfortable to wait a bit longer and see, etc. However way you decide to reopen, make sure to manage your availability calendars accordingly.
Each of us is now suddenly faced with this important decision which was only a concept a few days ago. Please take the time you need to think this through for yourself. I am always available to discuss, as well as everyone on your BBA board of directors. Do not hesitate to reach out to us.
We already sent some suggested operational guidelines to all on May 19. I realize this is a lengthy document but the information it contains is crucial for your own safety and the well-being of our community. Both Vintage Hotels and the BBA have developed our respective operational guidelines starting from the same template we judged was offering the highest and most complete standards possible.
The president of the Stratford Bed and Breakfast Association has also asked to use our document as a reference in writing and publishing their own. For those of you who feel ready to reopen, please have very high standards in place regarding cleanliness, disinfection protocols, physical distancing measures, the use of personal protective equipment when needed, and the maximum number of people allowed according to the provincial regulations.
I personally ask everyone to respect the recommended 24 to 72 hours between reservations in the same space. This is one of the most important protocols we presented in the guidelines. Vintage Hotels will only start running at a maximum of 33 per cent capacity, therefore leaving the full 72 hours at the moment.
We need to allow ourselves the necessary time to let the rooms sit empty before entering them and sufficiently clean and disinfect all surfaces in both private and public spaces. Time is truly our best ally. Remember that although infection through contact with surfaces is less likely than by close proximity with an infected individual, the virus can survive up to 72 hours on some surfaces.
Our town’s accommodation industry reopening must be gradual, orderly and under control. Avoiding a possible outbreak in NOTL is everyone’s responsibility and our number one priority.
Let’s make sure to do everything we can to keep our community and the travellers who visit our beautiful town safe.
David Levesque, president
NOTL Bed and Breakfast Association