Friday, June 5, 2020
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Your bubble is ready: plastic pods offer solution for COVID dining in France

For restaurateurs worrying how they can welcome back customers but keep them safe from COVID-19, a French designer has a solution: an oversized lampshade made of transparent plastic that encases a customer’s head as they eat.

The cylindrical device hangs from a cable on the ceiling, much like a lamp shade, and has a scoop cut out of the back so that a diner can get sit down and get back up without having to bend over double.

The designer behind the invention, Christophe Gernigon, said designs that are already on the market looked like booths in prison visiting rooms, so were not inviting for customers.

“I wanted to make it more glamorous, more pretty,” he said. His design will go into production next week, and he said he had received interest from France, Belgium, Canada, Japan and Argentina.

France is starting to relax some of the restrictions it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Shops and hairdressers have re-opened, and some children are back at school.

But the government has yet to give the green light for the re-opening of restaurant and bars, which have been hit hard financially by the crisis, because they pose particular problems for disease control.

The Plex’Eat accessory will be produced by French company Sitour, with an average of 10,000 unit produced weekly, Sitour sales officer France de Souza said.

It will cost around 150 euros a piece, de Souza said, although the price is not yet fixed.

Diners cannot eat while wearing a surgical mask, and if tables were removed to ensure customers are a safe distance from each other, many owners say they would not be able to make enough money to cover their costs.

Mathieu Manzoni, owner of the H.A.N.D restaurant that serves American-style food not far from Paris’ Louvre museum, invited Gernigon to the restaurant this week to hear his pitch. Manzoni said he was planning to place an order.

“Will people like it? I can’t say but I want to believe that it can add something because I find it fun,” he said in his restaurant, which is open for takeaway orders only.

(Production: Noemie Olive, Antony Paone, Emilie Delwarde)

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