Hoteliers are warned that their stagnant water systems may lead to harmful bacteria forming which may cause Legionnaires Disease once they reopen.
According to The Irish Hotels Federation, most hotels are aiming to reopen in Ireland by mid-July and pubs, hotels and restaurants have been given the go-ahead to reopen on July 3 in Northern Ireland.
However, hoteliers are now being warned that their stagnant water systems may pose a “serious threat” of being a breeding ground for Legionnaires Disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
It is caused by the spread of Legionella bacteria in stagnant water in an inactive plumbing system, as hot stagnant water temperatures can decrease to 25–42°C, a breeding ground for Legionella.
To combat this, hoteliers are encouraged to run their taps regularly while in lockdown - the Irish Independent has previously reported that staff at the legendary Shelbourne Hotel have been running taps and flushing toilets twice a week, a process which takes a day and a half.
Facility and security company Mercury, based in Tallaght, has warned hotels that prior to reopening, a plumbing system deep cleaning must take place.
“If you are re-opening your building after a prolonged period of inactivity, you will need to consider not only the impact of Covis-19 on the health and safety of your employees and customers, but also the increased risk of Legionnaires’ Disease due to water system stagnation,” he said.
“You need to ensure that your water system is safe to use after a lengthy shutdown to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease and other diseases associated with water – and this is not solved by simply running your water taps,” he warned.
The company now offers a Liogenella risk assessment for its clients, where potential hazards for Liogenella are identified and water samples are tested and cold water storage tanks and break tanks drained down, disinfected and flushed through.
Shower heads, ice makers, toilets, water taps are also cleaned and disinfected with appropriate procedures and measures in place for future use.