Is It Safe to Stay in a Hotel During COVID-19? Here's What the Experts Have to Say

Kathryn Mayer

Summer is usually the perfect time to satisfy your wanderlust by jetting off on near and far vacations, but during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many people are asking themselves just how safe traveling is right now. While stay-at-home orders have mostly been lifted, many travel bans and restrictions are still in place. But if you do decide to get on a plane or even drive somewhere for a getaway, how safe is it to stay in a hotel? In short, not very, experts say.

"As with any public place, there are transmission risks in hotels," Andria Rusk, research assistant professor specializing in global health and infectious disease at Florida International University's College of Public Health & Social Work, tells POPSUGAR. "This risk comes from interacting with fomites - objects or surfaces that are likely to carry infection - or interacting with infected people. The risk in a hotel environment could come from interacting with hotel employees, such as front desk staff or housekeeping staff, or with other hotel guests."

The risk is elevated especially in the hotel's high-traffic, shared public spaces, like public restrooms, fitness centers, business centers, and marketplaces or dining areas. Any high-touch surfaces - such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, ink pens for signing hotel agreements, pool railings, and stair banisters - also pose an elevated risk.

Related: When Will Europe Be Open For Travel Again? For the US, Not For a While

Although many hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott have touted their enhanced cleaning regimens due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against unnecessary travel right now because "travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick."

Rusk agrees, saying nonessential travel should be avoided: "It's important to recognize that because COVID-19 is contagious even in asymptomatic, seemingly healthy people, the travelers have the potential to put hotel employees at risk as much as the other way around. This would also include other people encountered during travels, like in airports, gas stations, rental car counters, and restaurants."

But what if you can't avoid staying in a hotel? There are a number of precautions you should take to make it safer. In addition to wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, bringing your own bleach spray or disinfecting wipes to go over all the surfaces and handles in a hotel - including overlooked surfaces like the TV remote control and telephone - is important, Rusk says. So is avoiding those dangerous common areas mentioned earlier.

She also recommends calling ahead to ask for a room that no one, not guests nor housekeeping staff, have entered in the past three days. "This ensures that any viral copies are deactivated before you arrive, based on the latest data we have on SARS-CoV-2's ability to survive on surfaces."

Lastly, she says, think about staying at a hotel that includes full kitchens in its suites: "That way you can limit your reliance on restaurants, take out, and hotel food by cooking for yourself."

More From

  • Nia DaCosta Will Take Lead on Captain Marvel 2 as the First Black Woman to Direct a Marvel Film

    Marvel Studios has tapped filmmaker Nia DaCosta to direct Captain Marvel 2, Deadline first reported on Wednesday afternoon. DaCosta - who's the director of the horror film Candyman - is the first Black woman and fourth woman to direct a Marvel Studios picture.

  • Concerned About Drinking While on Birth Control? Here's What You Need to Know

    Like many medications, birth control just doesn't mix with some things, including certain antibiotics and even some supplements like melatonin - but if you're worried that alcohol may affect how your birth control is absorbed, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Having an occasional drink won't make the pill any less effective, Kameelah Phillips, MD, IBCLC, a board-certified ob-gyn and founder of Calla Women's Health in New York, told POPSUGAR.

  • Lili Reinhart's Stacked Beauty Routine During Shelter in Place Costs Over $400

    Raise your hand if your skin has been putting up a fight since, well, March. (I can't see you, so I'm just going to assume you're in the same boat and move on.) Stress, face coverings, trying new products back to back, a bad sleep schedule - all of this can take a toll on your skin and lead to an increase in breakouts, flare-ups, and irritation. To combat this, Lili Reinhart has been stepping up her skin-care game and gave her followers a peek at the products she's leaning on the most. Renée Rouleau, Augustinus Bader, and other cult-favorite brands were included in the snapshot on her Instagram Stories. "Shoutout to some of my faves getting me through these days," read the text on the photo. Also included in the mix with her beauty products is a Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare facial steamer. A steam treatment can help loosen the gunk in your pores, allow products to penetrate deeper into the skin, and also clear your sinuses. (This must be the key to Reinhart's glowing complexion, therefore we're buying one ASAP.) Take a closer look at the products in Reinhart's stay-at-home beauty routine ahead.

  • 16 Low-Carb Snacks That Will Keep You Satisfied Until Dinner

    When it comes to snack time, we want something to keep us full and focused as we're trying to live our lives. We're looking for options filled with protein and that have a lower carbohydrate content. These snacks will keep you full, focused, and satisfied all day long. This list includes protein bars that can keep us full, salty snacks worth keeping on hand, and sweet treats. You can feel like you're indulging, but every one of these picks has 10 grams or less of net carbohydrates per serving. Basically, there's no reason not to shop. Related: 17 Low-Carb Recipes That Are So Simple, You'll Never Be Tempted by Takeout Again