By Evie Carrick
June 25, 2019
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Summer is off to a rocky start for the Dominican Republic.

The popular vacation destination’s reputation has been tarnished by several highly publicized events involving Americans who were vacationing on the island: sudden deaths, illnesses and accidents. CNN reported that there have been 10 American deaths in the Dominican Republic since the beginning of the year.

Two of those deaths occurred shortly after a stay at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. In response, Hard Rock is reevaluating protocols and services, including the in-room liquor dispensers currently found in several of their properties.

The dispensers, which are full-sized bottles of alcohol turned upside down in the mini fridge, are self-serve, meaning guests can dispense and regulate their own alcohol. Since Friday, the Hard Rock in Punta Cana has been removing the dispensers, and Hard Rock hotels in Cancún, Riviera Maya, Vallarta, and Los Cabos plan to follow suit.

The Hard Rock in Punta Cana’s general manager, Erica Lopez, told CNN on Monday that the removal of the alcohol dispensers at her property were made to “provide more tranquility for guests” and were not a specific response to the resort’s two deaths, one of which reportedly happened after a guest drank a glass of scotch from the minibar.

Randy Worobo, a food science professor at Cornell University, told The Points Guy that it’s unlikely that such severe illness would be caused by microbiological contamination because hard alcohol can kill microbes. Worobo said that a chemical contamination is more likely, but would depend on the liquor supplier and if the alcohol is being diluted.

Officials from the U.S. and Dominican Republic say they have not found a connection between the 10 deaths this year, but the U.S. has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for Americans traveling to the Dominican Republic.

In addition to removing in-room alcohol dispensers, Hard Rock locations in Punta Cana, Cancún, Riviera Maya, Vallarta, and Los Cabos are adding hand sanitizers for guests and giving staff face masks.

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