The rules of the beachfront hotel industry have been in place since before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2014.
But they’re now being tested for the first time.
The National Beachfront Association of the United States and the Hotel Industry Association of America have launched a joint initiative to develop and test a policy that would make beachfront restaurants and bars on the beach more responsible and safe.
The association says the beach will be the most open and safest place to eat, drink and play on a regular basis.
It also says the policy would reduce the risk of accidental poisoning by preventing food-borne illness outbreaks and deaths from shark attacks.
The group hopes to get the rules to all hotels in 2019, but its plan is already sparking controversy.
“The beachfront industry has been around for hundreds of years,” says Chris Leggett, the association’s vice president for consumer affairs.
“If they want to continue to thrive, they need to be accountable to their guests.”
Leggiett says the group is looking to set an example.
“We’re really hoping that this is a step in the right direction,” he says.
But critics say it’s a bad idea.
“I think we’re going to be a little bit disappointed,” says Susan Brown, a food safety lawyer and board member of the Beachfront Business Association of Massachusetts.
“It’s going to create a situation where hotels are going to say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna be a bunch of restaurants and bar owners, we want to be the only ones that have the right to do this and the only one that is going to enforce this,'” she says.
Brown is worried that the industry might get ahead of itself and begin to ban certain foods and drinks.
“Maybe some hotels will just start banning certain things,” she says, noting that the federal government recently banned certain ingredients in ice cream from being sold at hotels.
“What’s going on here is that we’ve seen these really great examples of food safety in the hospitality industry and hotels, but now it’s going out of control and this is what it’s become,” she adds.
Leggitt says the association has been working with the National Restaurant Association, the American Beverage Association and other food and beverage companies to develop the policy.
The policy, which is being reviewed by the National Beachside Association of Southern California, will take effect Jan. 1, 2020, and the association says it will be applied across the country, but the first test is expected to be in San Diego, California.
Leavitt says that while the beach is the ideal venue for beach dining, he’s worried about the consequences of not being able to keep up with the demand for beach food.
“There’s going a lot of people going to San Diego who haven’t even been to the beach,” he said.
“And then they’re going into restaurants and they’re drinking.
And that’s going in the wrong direction.”
Leavitz says he hopes the new rules will deter tourists from visiting San Diego.
“Our restaurants are already a magnet for people who are not going to go to restaurants,” he notes.
“They’re going back to places like Miami, New Orleans, Austin, Houston, Tampa, Phoenix, and other cities.”
Brown says she’s worried the new policy will make the industry less safe.
“These are businesses that are already making the business decisions that have been made,” she explains.
“This is going into a world where people are not taking their lives seriously.
I think that’s just a very dangerous situation.”