"While hotels have protocols in place to ensure limited contact between employees and guests, prioritizing employees with access to the vaccine would provide another layer of protection."

By Alison Fox
March 01, 2021
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New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday added hotel workers to the state's vaccine eligibility list, prioritizing them as essential workers.

The move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added people working in "Traveler Accommodation" to its list of essential workers, recommending they be vaccinated as part of Phase 1c.

Hotel reception
Credit: Space Cat/iStock/Getty Images Plus

"Hotels in many parts of the state serve as quarantine areas for COVID positive persons to isolate from their families. In turn, the staff at these facilities are being exposed to COVID regularly," Cuomo's office wrote in a statement along with the decision. "Given the overall increase to the State's supply and the essential health care service that these hotel workers provide, the Governor is granting localities the flexibility to add hotel workers to the 1B vaccine prioritization group."

In addition to public-facing hotel workers, New York allows people over 65, those with pre-existing health conditions, and many essential workers — including restaurant workers — to get vaccinated.

Chip Rogers, the president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, hailed the CDC's decision to prioritize hotel workers, calling it a "significant achievement" that recognizes their role during the pandemic.

"From housing healthcare workers and first responders to now supporting the ongoing vaccine distribution, our industry is playing a vital role in supporting our communities as we battle this public health crisis," Rogers said in a statement. "While hotels have protocols in place to ensure limited contact between employees and guests, prioritizing employees with access to the vaccine would provide another layer of protection."

The CDC has recommended against travel, but the agency has said fully vaccinated Americans do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Travel restrictions differ on a state-by-state basis, but at least two states — New Hampshire and Vermont — have made exceptions to their quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.