Amidst stringent infection control protocols, lockdowns and travel curbs, it is noteworthy to speak about the Qatar Clean Program. Launched in June 2020, the program targeted the hospitality sector and equipped it with the right knowledge and skill set in uncertain times. An upgraded Version- 2 was launched in March 2021 with some minor changes. QATAR CLEAN Certification is now mandatory for hotels and restaurants.
Within one year of its implementation, Qatar announced that 100 percent of its hotels are certified by the Qatar Clean program. It puts the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness in place and provides patrons a sense of confidence and safety as they travel to Qatar.
About Qatar Clean Program
The Qatar Clean program is an initiative driven by Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) & the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). The program is designed to place procedures and guidelines that the hospitality industry must follow in order to safeguard the well-being of guests and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. MOPH sends their team for regular inspection of the hotel facilities and provides support along with assessment and follow-ups. After receiving the assessment, the hotel would take necessary measures to meet the requirements. The main aim of this program is to keep food establishments aware about the new regulations and to conduct systematic inspections to avoid any unforeseen challenges.
“Qatar Cleaning program is basically a set of guidelines for cleanliness standards in the hospitality industry that makes sure hotels are cleaning hygienically and all protective steps are taken to prevent the spread of virus. It was an initiative to ensure consistency in cleaning and to set the standards for the hospitality sector in order to protect the health and safety of travelers, guests, employees, contractors, suppliers and residents,” says Nabil Sheikh, Cluster Executive Housekeeper, Millennium Hotels, Doha, Qatar.
Features of the Qatar Clean Program
- Every hotel must appoint a Qatar Clean Program Manger, who will be only responsible to monitor and coordinate with the authorities in Qatar National Tourism Council.
- It has instructions and set schedules for disinfections of various areas.
- It has a set of guidelines to be followed by the establishment which gives very clear instructions about the requirements to be implemented.
- It has a set of checklists to be followed by various departments- housekeeping, stores, receiving areas, engineering, F&B, FO, HR etc.
- It has various formats to be followed by security, front office, housekeeping, etc and maintain proper record.
- It has a set of templates which must be displayed in premises.
- It has a set of rules for contractors, guests, staff, and tenants.
- It has regular inspections in a timely manner by Tourism authorities together with the team from the Ministry of Public Health to audit the maintained records and in order to make sure the program is implemented well.
- Hotels must sterilise their facilities everyday, conduct frequent and thorough cleaning, use disinfectant in all rooms, air conditioning systems, water tanks, toilets, and ensure stringent sterilisation of designated guest areas.
- Hotels must adopt mobile or other contactless procedures for check in and check out, while optimising spaces to maintain a distance of at least two metres between individuals.
- Hotels must carry out daily temperature checks on all employees at the start of their shifts, as well as on suppliers and guests. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus must immediately be placed in isolation, and MOPH would be contacted.
Who qualifies to be Qatar clean certified?
“In order to be certified for the ‘Qatar Clean’ status by MOPH, the hotel must ensure that it meets all required documents, certificates, checklists and operational standards. All certified venues follow the standards set forth by MOPH due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Qatar Clean program by MOPH has allowed businesses to train their staff members effectively by utilizing the ‘Code of Conduct’ as a trustable source of information,”says Zakiyya Karimzada, Hygiene and Qatar Clean Manager, Grand Hyatt, Qatar.
The establishments that are implementing and fulfilling the given list of requirements in QATAR CLEAN will be certified, adds Nabil. “There is a list of requirements in self-assessment form for the hotels and restaurants, once all the requirements are completed, it needs to be submitted to the Ministry with all evidences asked for. After thoroughly reviewing the documents, a team from QNTC & MOPH will visit the premises in order to confirm and to audit the reports. Once everything is approved, a certificate from Qatar National Tourism Council will be issued for the company, which is valid for 1 year,” he says.
Impact on the hospitality industry
Since early 2020, all industries have been impacted by the pandemic. Zakiyya believes that COVID-19 has become the new world order and we will face many such situations in the coming future. We will continually hear about new viruses and neither hospitality nor any other industry can run from this reality.
Nabil offers a housekeeper’s perspective to the Qatar Clean Program. “It has a great impact on the hotel industry. It gave great support to the businesses in town during the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, many businesses faced the challenge of restoring trust and assuring customers they’re doing everything in their power to keep them safe and healthy. QATAR CLEAN program gave this assurance since it is a well monitored and organized plan from the QNTC & MOPH. A person feels safe and confident while visiting the certified places in town. People have more options to explore. Similarly, any business establishment feels more confident in servicing the client/guest. It gives more opportunity to businesses in order to generate revenue as they can open with 100% capacity if they are certified with QATAR CLEAN,” he adds.
Training the cleaning staff to achieve Qatar Clean certification
Effective training is key to achieving the hygiene goals set by the organization. Zakiyya says it is crucial to provide theoretical as well as practical training to staff members responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene standards of the hotel. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that staff members are supervised to attain the desired results aimed by the hospitality industry. Along with the safety and well-being of guests, hotels should also provide mental and emotional support to fellow staff members.
Nabil adds that there are usually no certifications for the individuals, however, the Qatar Cleaning Program itself carries all training materials which outlines the cleaning procedures and the frequencies. It is equipped with the required SOPs and guidelines. It has a plan based on type of surfaces and high touch areas within facilities that helps educate the cleaning teams on when, what, and how to clean and disinfect. A Qatar Cleaning Program Manager is responsible for all these training sessions. He/She needs to conduct all required training to the various departments together with the support of HODs. All training related records must be documented and submitted to the authorities for reviewing.
As we are aware, Qatar will be hosting the FIFA Arab Cup and FIFA World Cup 2022. The country is making sure to take all measures to safeguard the well-being of visitors in the midst of the pandemic. We are proud of Qatar, as the country has overcome major challenges and has proven to achieve all of its goals, ensuring that it preserves the ‘Clean’ status in the Middle East.