The hospitality industry is being urged to create firm contingency plans to deal with the increasingly imminent impact of the swine flu pandemic.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is urging the industry to develop strategies to cope with an outbreak, which claimed its 17th UK victim this week, but stopped short of issuing an industry-wide response.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, said: "We're urging businesses to have contingency planning, but we can't have a standard response as there is no best practice.
"We're looking into the insurance aspect of interrupted business, but companies have to make their own decisions, we can't do it for them."
Industry response to the increase in deaths from the disease has been mixed. Premier Inn operator Whitbread said it has organised a pandemic crisis management meeting with 12 key company figures to discuss each area of the business and how it will affect it.
A spokeswoman said: "We've have always had a rigorous crisis management plan and this is really an extension of this but we're now focusing on something specific."
Hilton said it had taken further "steps to reinforce and ensure hotel team members have been educated about additional precautionary measures and recommendations".
But Graham Turner, chief executive at restaurant group Tragus, which operates the Café Rouge, Strada and Bella Italia chains, told Caterer the company was treating swine flu like it would any other emergency.
"We have a broad disaster plan and a committee to deal with any emergency, but we're not doing anything specific as it's still early days. We will need to see how this situation unfolds before we put specific measures in place."
Business's three-step plan for Swine flu
- Be prepared Have a contingency plan in place.
- Act quickly Employees with suspected swine flu must remain at home and seek appropriate medical advice.
- Be proactive Provide effective hand-washing facilities; ensure short-term emergency disinfecting and IT cleaning; and long-term deep cleaning.
Source: Rentokil Initial
By Gemma Sharkey and Kerstin Kuhn
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