HTS Highlights: COVID-Safe Businesses & Events

Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Executive Director Patricia Olinger, was joined by a panel of professionals featuring Hyatt Americas Vice President of Operations, Tim Obert, United Service Companies CEO Rick Simon, and GBAC Director Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner. The main topics of discussion focused on safety procedures created to combat COVID-19 and how the future of safety and cleanliness will look like as we move forward. 

Olinger began the discussion by emphasizing the purpose of the GBAC which is to “prepare, respond and recover.” The GBAC was created between 2014 and 2015 due to the Ebola outbreak. Additionally, the current global pandemic has caused new realizations for the GBAC, “we have real concerns and critical shifts,” said Olinger. As a response to the outbreak, the GBAC has created the GBAC STAR accreditation program. This program is a guide to help facilities demonstrate that they can provide specific practices and protocols in combating a pandemic. “We need to be prepared for what’s next and move-on from hygienic cleaning to pandemic awareness,” said Olinger. 

Hyatt Hotels are GBAC STAR credited world-wide. In addition to the GBAC STAR credit, Hyatt has started a Global Cleanliness program that has implemented training via the GBAC, a hygiene leader at each property, global face mask coverings, and ensuring every property is engaged in the accreditation program. When speaking about the future of cleanliness, Obert said “we need transparency in the products and procedures we use, we don’t want to lose the knowledge we’ve learned from this pandemic.” 

Dr. Macgregor-Skinner weighed on the importance of GBAC STAR by explaining how obtaining this type of accreditation has helped with the approval of local governments. “If your event is following the GBAC protocols, it becomes easier for the local government to give you the green-light to open,” he said. 

Simon joined the conversation about safety by stating, “not only do we have to make people safe, we have to make them feel safe.” He makes a point about the uncertainty of what will happen a month from now, but emphasizes the importance of planning during these current situations. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner expressed that we all need a “peace of mind” and that we’re doing the best we can do. Moving forward, we need to get excited when events start happening, but asking the crucial questions of ‘how do we operate to the highest standards?’ and ‘are we protecting our occupants and the buildings?’ Most importantly Dr. Skinner says, is to focus on the health and wellness of our guests and occupants to show that we care. 

Written By: Marla Chavez Garcia