NATIONAL REPORT—One of the main ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through the wearing of face masks. Face masks prevent you from spreading respiratory droplets and help reduce, but not eliminate, the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles. In recent months, many suppliers have emerged selling different types of masks. A review of supplier sites found at least a half-dozen different mask types. Ray Burger, President of Pineapple Hospitality, a company currently selling several mask varieties, says his customers are primarily buying 3-ply and KN95 for non-medical use masks.
Both N95 and KN95 masks are available in the marketplace but N95 masks are not meant for use by the public. According to Smart Air, the differences between the two types are not major. “N95 masks are the U.S. standards for respirator masks; KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for [respirator] masks,” the company says. “Lots of users care most about what percentage of particles the masks capture. On this metric, N95 and KN95 respirator masks are the same. Both masks are rated to capture 95 percent of tiny particles (0.3 micron particles, to be exact).”
The CDC recommends that members of the public use simple cloth face coverings when in a public setting to slow the spread of the virus, since this will help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Of course, the wearing of a face mask is also meant to impede the inhalation of droplets. N95 and KN95 respirator type masks are most effective at filtering out both large and small incoming droplets while simple 2-ply and 3-ply cloth masks can stop some larger droplets. KN95 masks offer significant protection over standard 2-ply or 3-ply masks.
Mask Prices Expected to Decrease
Which mask to use in a hotel environment is subjective and based on cost, brand/hotel standards, and level of protection desired. A review of sites selling face masks to hotels showed prices ranging from less than a dollar per mask for a 3-ply disposable cloth mask to more than eight dollars for a washable cloth mask. As supply catches up with demand, Burger expects mask prices will decrease.
Burger says guests should be supplied with a 3-ply mask. An employee should be supplied with a higher quality mask. “The KN95 would be very appropriate to provide to staff,” he says. “We are trying to offer a wide variety of solutions based on what customers and guests are going to require.”
What to do if a guest refuses to wear a mask? Burger says guests should at least be offered a mask. “Ask but not require,” he says. “In most cases travelers will bring their own.”
The industry has not come together on its own mask standard. In the recently released AHLA Safe Stay cleaning standards document, it states, “CDC recommendations along with federal and local government regulations shall dictate appropriate PPE to be worn by employees.”
Available from Numerous Suppliers
In addition to Pineapple Hospitality, other companies experienced in hospitality are also selling face masks. Below is a list of some of those companies, some of which are also supplying non-hospitality companies:
Hotel Emporium is currently offering 3-ply, surgical, KN95, N95, and NIOSH N95 masks.
A-1 Textiles & Hospitality Products is offering 3-ply face masks alone or as part of a PPE Kit that includes sanitizer, face masks and wipes.
Sterling Sleep Systems is selling 2-ply masks that feature SaniCare by Cramer: a special cleaning method for cotton that, when appropriately used, inhibits the production of mildew and fungus and destroys the conditions supporting the proliferation of house dust-mites.
American Hospitality Supply (AHS) is offering two-layer masks with a cotton-blend face with non-woven polypropylene filtering inner layer. These washable masks are available in grey, black and white. AHS also sells 3-ply face masks.
Guest Supply by Sysco sells 3-ply masks in either blue or white, as well as two types of KN95 face masks.
World Amenities is offering surgical and N95 masks.
Guest Care Solutions just unveiled its Personal Protection Pack that includes one 3-ply face mask, an individual pack of hand sanitizer, and an antiseptic wipe.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.