Strongly enforced mobility restrictions to deter the spread of COVID-19 severely impacted tourism, a pivotal economic sector of the Balearic Islands. Little is known about the experiences of the most economically affected groups, such as hotel housekeepers. This study aimed to explore the experiences and concerns of hotel housekeepers (approximately 13,000 worked in the Balearic Islands before the pandemic) during the first stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by telephone in April of 2020. Thematic analysis was used for interpretation. Eighteen hotel housekeepers were interviewed. Main experiences and concerns identified were: (a) distress due to employment status and economic situation, (b) concerns for children’s education, (c) health-related concerns, mainly regarding the possibility of infecting someone, and (d) feelings related to home confinement (e.g., sense of security against infection, tedium, and boredom). Uncertainty permeated all discourses, generating feelings of fear and distress, particularly related to employment status and the general economic situation. Our findings shed light on the impact of public health measures to control COVID-19 spread in the different areas of life of hotel housekeepers, one of the most economically affected occupational groups. The trade-off between economics and health must be considered in future decisions on public health.


COVID-19, lockdown, hotel housekeepers, semi-structured interviews, thematic analysis

Author Bio(s)

Xenia Chela-Alvarez is political scientist, Master in Women, Gender and Citizenship Studies and PhD candidate in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. She works at the Primary Care Research Unit of Mallorca and has been teaching qualitative methodology to primary care nurses and physicians during their residency program. Her research interests include gender and social class inequalities, public health and public policy evaluation. Please direct correspondence to: xenia.chela@gmail.com.

Cristian Sánchez-Rodríguez, PhD candidate in health sciences and member of the Research Group on Global Health and Human Development at University of the Balearic Islands. Currently working at Sant Joan de Déu Hospital (Palma, Spain) as physiotherapist. Areas of research interests are chronic pain, pain education, and global health. Please direct correspondence to: cristianfeinch1@gmail.com.

Oana Bulilete MD, PhD works at the Primary Care Research Unit, Balearic Public Health Service, Spain. She is experienced in clinical trials and her research interests include health economics, implementation science and non-communicable diseases. Please direct correspondence to oana.bulilete@ibsalut.es

MClara Vidal-Thomàs, is a nurse specialist in family and community care, Master in Epidemiology and PhD candidate at the University of the Balearic Islands. She belongs to the Primary Care and Health Promotion Research Group of the Health Research Institute of the Balearic Islands (Idisba) and to the Health Care and Services Research Group of the Carlos III Health Institute (INVESTEN-ISCIII). Her interests are primary care, health promotion and education, and community involvement. Please direct correspondence to: mariaclara.vidal@ibsalut.es

Joan Llobera MD, PhD is specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health. He developed his career in primary care research and since 1993 he is the head of the Primary Care Research Unit of Mallorca. He is teaching research methods to students and residents, and has considerable experience in primary care research, service evaluation and research management. He has been the principal investigator of several competitive research projects and the author many academic publications. His research interests include primary care, health prevention and promotion, and health services. Please direct correspondence to jllobera@ibsalut.es


We acknowledge the collaboration of all hotel housekeepers who agreed to participate in the project and be interviewed.

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