Dave Christopher and Sam Collins of Silver Creek presented two reports from the “tourism and hospitality committee” to the Pocahontas County Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.
The commission appointed members to that committee to design local guidelines and best practices for county lodging and other tourism businesses to follow in order to safely reopen following the coronavirus shutdown.
The first report detailed safe “best practices” for lodging businesses to use to safely reopen while protecting staff and guests. Those establishments include owner-operated condominiums, hotels, motels and B&Bs. The second report included other hospitality and tourism busi- nesses such as food and beverage establishments, retail stores, parks, outdoor outfitters and ski resorts in addition to the lodging businesses.
The lodging best practices report addressed the following issues:
• Protocols for self-quarantined guests or long-term residents.
• Proper hand hygiene, personal protection equipment (PPE) and training of housekeeping staff,
• Handling of in-room linens and soft fabrics, including recommendations for the safe handling and cleaning of comforters,
blankets, pillow shams and throws. Included in the report was the option of requiring guests to bring their own linens.
• Safely disposing of trash from a room
• How to safely handle in-room maintenance requests from guests
• Cleaning and disinfecting rooms after guests check out
• Safe operations in laundry rooms
The recommendations in the report regarding all hospitality and tourism businesses were:
• Employee health screening
• Physical distancing, sanitation and disinfecting practices, and use of masks and other PPE
• posting virus protection policies for customers and advising that customers who are sick should not enter the establishment
The commissioners were impressed by the recommended best practices, which go beyond and are more specific then guidelines provided by either the state or the CDC. They decided to forward these reports to the West Virginia State Department of Health for possible statewide implementation, rather than just for local implementation.
In other business, the commission
• voted to contribute $5,000 to the town of Marlinton’s Discovery Junction. The COVID19 crisis curtailed fundraising plans, leaving the project short of funds necessary to complete construction.
• approved for the 911 Center to hire Cody Balser as a full-time 911 Dispatcher effective June 3.
• voted to send a letter to DirectTV and Dish Network requesting that county customers of those services be able to receive West Virginia TV stations as their local channels instead of Roanoke, Virginia channels. The commission cautioned that this could take a while to happen.
• lifted the closure of the courthouse county offices and decided to let each office decide how many people will be allowed in their office at a given time.
• agreed to consider, at their next meeting, a $15,000 donation to the Pocahontas County Health Department. This money would come from the Governor’s County Coronavirus Grant of $100,000.
The Health Department would use the monies to hire a part-time worker to do contact tracing of virus cases and other important duties related to the virus.