TOKYO (Reuters) – As Japan’s restaurants and bars slowly open up from a coronavirus lockdown, many are looking to reassure the public that dining out is safe again and one Japanese-style izakaya pub thinks it has found the perfect solution.
The pub in Tokyo’s normally bustling Shinjuku district has installed a machine that sprays customers with hypochlorous acid water as they enter.
Customers are first greeted by a hostess on a monitor, of course, who instructs them to disinfect their hands and check their temperature with a thermometer provided.
They then step into a machine that looks like an airport security scanner, or a car-wash for humans, to get sprayed with a fine mist of the chlorine-based disinfectant for 30 seconds.
Customers then pick up a map that guides them to their seat where they order with smartphones.
Throughout the process they have not come into contact with a single person.
“We wanted to develop a system that is in accordance with the new lifestyle and something that is a high model that could prevent infection,” said the president of the Kichiri&Co group that owns the pub.
“It’s still an experiment, but once we develop the system, we want to share the know-how at each of our restaurants.”
A clear acrylic screen is set up between each diner to further minimise the risk of infection, and it seems to work.
“I feel safe,” said one woman customer who didn’t want to be identified.
“But being in there for 30 seconds was a bit long. I was like, when will this be over.”
Kichiri has also installed a spraying booth, which cost more than 700,000 yen (US$6,493), at a pub in Osaka city, where the government is expected to lift a coronavirus emergency on Thursday. It remains in place in Tokyo.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; additional reporting by Issei Kato; Editing by Robert Birsel)