New Jersey Requires Daily Housekeeping. Hotels Want That Repealed.

New Jersey passed a law requiring daily housekeeping during the pandemic. It goes so far as to require that sheets are changed daily. Hotels have become a dirty mess to save costs – checking guests into rooms that haven’t been cleaned and letting trash pile up in the hallways.

Yet the justification for New Jersey’s law was always absurd. Requiring a changing of sheets during a guest’s stay wasn’t going to limit the spread of Covid-19 because you aren’t getting Covid from your own sheets.

The law was passed in June 2020. If Covid is really the reason it persists, it’s as though we’ve learned nothing in the past two years. More likely this is meant to support housekeepers and the unions that represent them.

This is one cases where the interests of unions and customers are aligned. Even where housekeeping returns to hotels ‘on request’ the dirty little secret is chains are allowing hotels to do little more than take out the trash. The law requires full housekeeping, at least an an option (that guests can opt out of).

[T]he state Department of Health issued a “guidance memo” in response to the public’s concerns that the law forces more interactions with housekeeping staff possibly spreading the virus. Guests can request fresh linens and make their bed themselves if they prefer no contact, according to the memo from state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

“Because guests may choose to request daily cleaning by hotel staff at any time, hotels should always maintain sufficient staffing levels at all times to ensure that each and every occupied guest room can be cleaned by staff,” the commissioner’s memo said. “Additionally, because hotel staff are trained in cleaning, hotels should not encourage or incentivize the option for guests to clean their own rooms.”

Hotels argue that the law should be repealed for two reasons,

  • It’s costly “at a time when the industry is still recovering” which isn’t persuasive considering hotels have been full at high rates and it’s an argument against employment.
  • Washing sheets is bad for the environment, because anything that a company wants to do that’s against its employees and customers always gets wrapped up in a ‘noble cause’.
  • It’s in a hotel chain’s interests to maintain its reputation that sets it apart as an experience from Airbnb. But it’s in an individual hotel owner’s interests to spend as little as possible, capitalizing (and depleting) a brand’s reputation. The major chains have been short-term oriented, focused on extracting fees from hotel owners at the expense of their long-term brand.

    But hotel chains should be legally permitted to do this! Just as New Jersey residents should be legally allowed to pump their own gas. But, New Jersey.

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