26 May 2022

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Staying at a hotel? Better take your own bed linen in case – and numbers of new cases continue to rise
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Staying at a hotel? Better take your own bed linen in case – and numbers of new cases continue to rise

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Bed linen – looks like a perfect storm!

Imagine booking into a hotel and when you get there, there are no sheets and pillows cases on your bed. You’d be on the phone to reception like a shot, wouldn’t you?

Hopefully this has not happened to you – yet! It may sound one of the stranger outcomes to covid-19 but hotel bed linen is under threat. Of course everyone blames covid for everything as it is really convenient to do so.

So what is the problem then? Well, the first and most major problem is that the laundries are finding it difficult to pick up the dirty linen and replace with clean. It may come as a surprise to many of the hotel-using fraternity but very few hotels these days do their own laundry. The shortage of lorry drivers has impacted on this aspect of industry and as business has been quite good recently the problem has surfaced.

Hotel laundry is not something that is easy to handle. Guests want clean crisp sheets and pillow cases on their beds with only the right creases in the right places. Oh dear – how often do you go into a cheap hotel and find that the bed sheets are rucked and badly ironed, if indeed on some occasions ironed at all? Or the duvet cover looks more like a sack of potatoes?

Professional laundries have ironing machines the width of bed sheets and some beds are up to 8 feet wide and you have to have the overhang as well. It is a virtual impossibility to handle such sheets in-house. There are ironing machines which are available but really they are small affairs probably only a few feet wide so it is impossible to iron a big sheet unless it has been folded first. Therein lies the problem!

Hotels however do still carry out some laundry in-house. They do towels, tea towels, napkins, table cloths and a range of smaller items which can be handled easily by hand.

However, and this is something else the hotel client may not know, the bed linen does not belong to the hotel at all. It belongs to the laundry which is not a laundry company at all – it is a linen hire company which may or may not do its own laundry! Confusing? This means that the laundry has to remove worn out linen and replace with new so they have quite a responsibility when it comes to keeping hotels going.

And there is another problem, a big staff shortage. Out of a work force of about 24000, there are vacancies of 4000, that is 16%. Many of the staff were Eastern European and when they were put on furlough, they went home!

And then there is another problem still – much more fundamental. Yes – a shortage of cotton so that it is difficult to manufacture enough replacement linen. What a nightmare!

The shortage of cotton derives from weather related disasters and India’s covid crisis.

There are horror stories of hotel staff having to take the bed linen home to get it washed and back again because the laundries cannot deliver.

So now do you think it would be a good idea to take your own sheets? Get your ironing board out. Widow Twanky would be proud of you!

And while we are about it, here is today’s report on numbers. New cases stand at 37489, a little down on yesterday but the seven day trend which is what really gives the game away shows weekly numbers up by 13.9% to 269193. That at one time hard to grasp quarter of a million barrier now seems small in the distance behind – the figure to grasp now is 270000. Tomorrow perhaps? Deaths are up too – 209 today making the seven day tally at 948, up 39.2% whilst new patients number 6641 over seven days, up again by 1.6%.

It is really important you take all steps to protect yourselves.

Adrian Leopard 07-09-21

Photo Eric Vö

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