“When Beau Phillips checked into a hotel near Toledo recently, a table in front of the counter barricaded him from getting too close to the clerk, who wore a mask and stood behind a plastic window.
“The key is gently tossed at you from three feet away,” said Mr. Phillips, a public affairs executive who was staying at a Radisson Country Inn & Suites while visiting family.
The hotel’s breakfast buffet was gone, the fitness center closed, elevators limited to two riders. And to reduce the risk of an in-person visit, after Mr. Phillips left his room each day, no housekeeper came in to make the bed.
The pandemic has plunged the hotel industry into a historic downturn. Average hotel occupancy dipped as low as 22 percent in late March, and had risen to a still miserable 48.1 percent the week ending July 25, according to STR, a market research firm. So hotels nationwide have embarked on a transformation of the most basic ways they run their business, aimed at showing would-be travelers they understand where they’re at: terrified.