When the pandemic first began in 2020, there was a fear COVID was being transmitted by touch.

While many Garden State residents were constantly sanitizing their hands and wiping down items they bought in the supermarket, the New Jersey Legislature passed a measure, S2479 and A4131, that established sanitization guidelines for hotels and motels, requiring room surfaces to be cleaned and sheets to be changed and washed every day.

Even though we now know COVID is transmitted primarily through the air and not by touch, the sanitization guidelines are about to be finalized and adopted, and a New Jersey lawmaker is enraged.

According to State Senator Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, “the situation is outrageously odd because everything is wrong with this.”

He said the government is now going to be micromanaging how hotel rooms are cleaned, mandating they be sanitized, with new towels, sheets and pillowcases every day.

“Even if you’re in your own room, you don’t want anybody else in there and you don’t want to be exposed to other people being in there breathing COVID, you have to let them in," he said.

“We’re going to give more people COVID because we’re going to expose those workers to those (hotel) residents and vice versa every single day."

O’Scanlon said the new sanitization requirements requiring all sheets to be washed and sanitized every day is ridiculous.

“Nobody changes their sheets every single day, and what the hell can happen if you sleep on the same sheets, you’re going to give COVID to yourself, it’s insane, it’s lunacy at every level.”

The hands of housewives who are changing sheets in hotels.
HearttoHeart0225 GettyImages

Cost to hotels

O'Scanlon said this could result in hotels needing to hire more workers and spend more on laundry. There's also an impact to the environment from the extra washing and drying and cleaning.

He said it’s understandable to have rooms cleaned and sheets washed when guests check out and new ones come in, but to force the cleaning staff to constantly be going into all rooms, touching every surface every day makes no sense at all because it increases the opportunity to spread germs.

He said he’s drafting legislation right now to stop this from becoming law.

According to the New Jersey Health Department, if guests do not want hotel staff to enter their rooms to fulfill the sanitization and daily linen/towel changing requirements, they may request disinfectant, cleaning materials and sufficient linens and towels in order to do the job themselves.

The guidance stipulates if this option is utilized, a hotel staff member should be available to answer any questions or requests for assistance that may arise.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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