Guests who find non-compliance at their accommodation could ask for a refund, depending on the terms and conditions of the booking. Picture: Pexels
Guests who find non-compliance at their accommodation could ask for a refund, depending on the terms and conditions of the booking. Picture: Pexels

Covid non-compliance: Why I checked out of a SA accommodation a day earlier

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Sep 7, 2021

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Here I was, thrilled to be venturing out of my house for the first time in over a month. Bags packed. Road trip playlist ready. A bottle of sanitiser tucked away in my pocket.

The journey was exhausting. I was ready to take off my shoes and relax at my destination.

Upon arrival, the guard at the gate sprayed our hands with sanitiser, opened the steel gates and let us in.

There were no temperature checks and no Covid-19 related questions asked. Not thinking much, we unloaded the car and followed our host to our tiny accommodation. When we checked in, sanitisers and handwash were in the bathroom and all public spaces.

As there were only four guests, including myself, we felt comfortable. With our masks firmly fixed on our faces, we enjoyed the sunset and dinner that evening.

Paranoia started to grow when we heard other guests were checking in the next day. Eight more, the host told us. When we did our calculation, we realised that the accommodation would reach its capacity the next day. Although the industry is allowed to operate at full capacity, our accommodation was confined.

There wouldn’t have been ample space for movement in the public areas, which needs to be at 50% capacity at all times.

We raised the issue with the host the following morning and opted to check out a day earlier.

With Covid-19 cases rising in the country at the time, staying an extra night in fully booked accommodation didn’t seem like a wise idea. That, coupled with the lack of screening on arrival, raised red flags.

Hold them accountable

Holidays are a luxury for many people. They spend months saving and take great pride in creating itineraries.

Not having the accommodation or any tourism business adhere to regulations is a cause for concern. I felt paranoid, afraid and unsure of what to expect, which ruined my overall experience.

Travel Savvy owner Jennifer Morris said accommodation establishments need to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“The sooner South Africans work together to end the pandemic, the sooner we can all get back to fully enjoying everything our beautiful country has to offer.

“We all want to support the tourism sector at the moment, and we must do. However, we must give preference to hotels, guest-houses, B&Bs, lodges and chalets that are working to safeguard their guests and stop the pandemic in its tracks," she said.

Morris said that establishments that falsely advertise being Covid-safe and fail to enforce regulations need to be held accountable.

“If they are not adhering to mask-wearing policies, social distancing, sanitising, temperature checks, track-and-trace reporting and other basic protective measures, then they do not deserve to host guests.

“Guests who do not feel comfortable should first try to bring their concerns to the attention of the accommodation management. If that does not result in better compliance, guests should check out and demand a refund for unused nights, citing 'false advertising’ or 'breach of contract' under the Consumer Protection Act. Furthermore, flagrant disregard of Covid-safety regulations should be reported to the labour department," she advised.

According to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, chief executive of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), travellers can lodge complaints about Covid-19 non-compliance on the Travel Safe Eat Safe website.

“We want travellers to feel comfortable when they explore our country, and they should report non-compliance from any establishment on the Travel Safe Eat Safe website,” he said.

Tshivhengwa said guests who find non-compliance at their accommodation could ask for a refund, depending on the terms and conditions of the booking.

Clinton Moodley has chosen to omit the accommodation’s name as he has raised the issue with them.

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