Spain-based Room Mate Hotels will be making rapid antigen Covid-19 tests available to all guests for free, with plans to have the testing -- which promises results in 15 minutes or less -- rolled out across its European portfolio by the end of October.
Room Mate, which operates 27 hotels globally, has launched its testing in partnership with Spanish workplace risk-prevention firm Quirnprevencin.
The company plans to expand the program to its U.S. hotels by the end of November and its beach properties this summer.
Under the testing initiative, which Room Mate says is the first program of its kind in the hotel space, guests will be required to either take a complimentary test three to five days prior to departure at a Quironprevencion site in their city of origin or take the test upon arrival at reception. Reception testing, available between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily, will be administered by a registered nurse. The testing process requires a nasal swab to collect a sample.
Guests staying at a Room Mate hotel for longer periods of time will need to retake the test every three to five days, with all follow-up testing also provided at no cost. An app developed by Quirnprevencin, designed to help guests monitor for Covid-19 symptoms during their stay, will also be made available.
Additionally, all Room Mate employees will undergo testing every five days.
Mask usage, social distancing, enhanced cleaning efforts and other health and safety measures implemented as part of Room Mate's Covid-19 health and safety protocols will continue.
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The rapid antigen tests being utilized are produced by Abbott Laboratories and have received approval from both the Spanish Public Health authority and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to Abbott, the test is able to accurately detect a positive case 97.1% of the time and a negative case 98.5% of the time.
Meanwhile, rapid antigen tests, which have become increasingly affordable, are viewed as something of a game-changer for the travel and hospitality sectors.
"Before, tests were 100 euros, and now these tests are around 5 euros," said Room Mate Hotels founder and president Kike Sarasola. "So, now we have that chance to do massive scale testing and give people the confidence to travel. And no investment is too big for us when it comes to gaining back the confidence of our clients."
Room Mate began a phased reopening of its temporarily closed hotels in June. Currently, the group has hotels in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Malaga and Granada, Spain; Rome, Milan and Florence, Italy; Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Holland; Paris; Miami; and Istanbul up and running.