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Clearwater hotel rolls out new precautions to keep guests, staff safe in midst of coronavirus pandemic

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – As Florida begins the process of reopening, restaurants and bars are operating at 25% capacity in Pinellas County. But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first phase of reopening allowed hotels to fully open back up. So how are they keeping guests and hotel staff safe?

The Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach took the mayor and 8 On Your Side behind the scenes on Wednesday for a sneak peek.

The new precautions start from the moment you arrive at the valet. When the Sandpearl staff takes your keys, they wipe them and the inside of your car with Lysol. Then they put steering wheel covers and seat covers in while they have possession of the car. When the keys are handed back to the customer at the end of the trip, the temporary covers are removed and everything is sprayed with Lysol once more.

Carol Keen and her daughter Rochelle Glinka live in Tampa and were enjoying a mother-daughter getaway at the Clearwater resort when 8 On Your Side caught up with them Wednesday.

“We’ve been quarantined too long!” Keen said.

From the private beachfront and the pool waterfall to grand piano music on constant repeat, the duo said the 250-room resort always strives for excellence. They said that’s why they felt safe coming here amidst concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.

They also noticed changes this trip with new coronavirus precautions in place.

“These are spacers in the lobby asking people to stay 6 feet apart if they’re waiting for breakfast or dinner,” Sandpearl General Manager Eric Waltz said.

Housekeeping looks different too. There’s no room service or turn-down service at the moment and mini-bars, ice buckets and coffee machines no longer come inside the rooms. They can be obtained by special request.

“We have an ultraviolet light that specifically kills germs. After every guest checks out, he is the first one to go into the guestroom. He uses the light on any high-touch area that they would have used before checking out,” said Waltz.

He said it takes 5 to 7 minutes to wand each room. The focus is on the beds, pillows, sheets, phones, light switches, ceiling fan switches and door handles.

Then the room sits empty for 24 hours with windows open before being sanitized a second time.

“This is one of the most important safety steps for our guests as well as our employees,” said Waltz.

There are signs in the lobby allowing only one person or family in each elevator. Indoor restaurant tables are spread out, only allowing 25% capacity. All barstools have been taken away.

“As part of the requirements, we got rid of all the barstools. You can’t sit at the bar and have a beer anymore. Not in this phase,” said Waltz.

Outside, all the pool chairs and beach umbrellas are 6 feet apart.

“People seem to be minding the rules,” said Glinka.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said he’s thrilled to get beachside businesses back in action.

“Really the Sandpearl and the Opal Sands are a benchmark and it’s something all the other hoteliers can learn from,” said Mayor Hibbard.

“It’s one of my favorite spots here,” said Glinka.

“It’s a wonderful family atmosphere, we have the most beautiful sugar sand beaches. We’ve been Number 1 (for) three out of four years and we want to keep it that way!” Mayor Hibbard added.

Waltz said their hotel may keep some practices like sanitizing car keys and using the UV light in place permanently. He said he’s unsure how long other practices will stay due to the unknowns of the pandemic.

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