The air conditioning transmitted the coronavirus to 10 people sitting near an infected person in a restaurant. This has a huge impact on the service industry.

  • A research letter in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases showed that 10 people developed COVID-19 after going to a restaurant, likely because of the restaurant’s air conditioning.
  • The authors advised restaurants to increase the space between tables and improve ventilation.
  • As restaurants in less infected states look forward to reopening, experts say additional security measures need to be put in place. B. work at half capacity, with waiters wearing masks and a possible time limit on how long the eaters can stay.
  • You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

Three seemingly healthy families were hit by COVID-19 in mid-January after eating at neighboring tables in a windowless restaurant in Guangzhou, China.

Neither of them had symptoms, but researchers who investigated the case believe one person had an asymptomatic case, and the restaurant’s air conditioning system blew viral droplets further than they would normally have gone, infecting another nine people.

It’s a scary prospect for people trying to keep a healthy distance from others. However, in a potentially hopeful outcome for the roped-off restaurant industry, no one in the restaurant got sick, despite the fact that it was a full house with 83 guests on five floors and eight servers working around the person with coronavirus. The researchers described in a research letter published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. “To prevent the virus from spreading in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation,” the authors write.

For the struggling restaurants who are eager to get back up and running in the coming months, these results are proof that work in restaurants is not only returning to normal after the pandemic, but that there are ways to limit the spread. There will likely be a cap on the time guests can spend eating, restaurants must be half capacity, air conditioning or heating must be off, and waiters may be advised to wear masks.

The head chef and owner of Nightbird Restaurant, Kim Alter, prepares meals that were delivered to hospital workers in San Francisco on March 27th. Jeff Chiu / AP


The source of the infection was a 63-year-old woman in a family of five (Family A) who didn’t show symptoms (fever and cough) until later in the day when she went to a hospital and tested positive for COVID-19.

Within two weeks, four of the female relatives fell ill, which was not surprising given the coexistence. But also five other guests (in family B and family C) who, apart from their time in the restaurant, did not seem to have any other connection to the virus. It surprised researchers because the novel coronavirus is transmitted in droplets (heavy particles that tend not to float more than a meter) rather than aerosols (as is the case with measles, which can float far in the air) . The team investigating the case said it appeared like an air conditioner could blow droplets farther than three feet.

The gastronomy has been hard hit by the pandemic

More than 3 million people have lost restaurant jobs since March 1, and one in five restaurants could shut down permanently due to the pandemic, according to a UBS estimate. The National Restaurant Association asked Congress for $ 240 billion to help the struggling industry.

While most Americans want to wait before going back to their daily routine, opening restaurants means reopening a supply chain for restaurateurs, farmers, salespeople, cooks, and waiters, all of whom have been unemployed for at least a month.

Restaurants will need new rules when they reopen, but they can vary from state to state

The research team that examined the Guangzhou restaurant has not attempted to replicate the phenomenon in a laboratory, and there are no other cases to compare it to. Hence, their results must be absorbed with a grain of salt.

However, William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the research letter is a good source for understanding what restaurant openings would look like.

“We’ll open up again,” said Schaffner. “But the trick will be to open slowly and gradually. Phases include opening restaurants to half capacity with space between seats.”

It’s unclear whether distance and capacity rules could do the trick, although it’s very likely they’ll apply anyway – and we’ll likely start seeing rural areas not as badly affected by the virus as large cities. Try it out first. Schaffner, who lives in Tennessee, which is not yet badly affected by the virus, said he saw growing pressure for restaurants to open up.

Jennifer Horney, founding director of the University of Delaware’s Epidemiology Program, told Business Insider that she is slowly easing emergency orders on a state or regional basis so restaurants can reopen with some improvements to traditional service. Eating in a relaxed policy state may include the use of touchless payments, one-way meals, and staff wearing face masks and gloves.

Scientists say restaurants should stay at half capacity when they reopen, but it can be a tough rule to enforce

Rather than creating new restrictions like banning air conditioning or eating outside, Horney said it could be easier and just as effective for restaurants to adjust existing rules like room capacity. “Existing regulations like occupancy numbers for fire regulations could be used to set a maximum number of 25% of normal occupancy that can be safely serviced at any time,” said Horney.

However, Schaffner is skeptical about how we can ensure restaurants are running at half capacity.

“Some restaurants will say, listen up, we’re busy. Let’s just open a few more tables,” he said. “The Covid police won’t catch us tonight.” Read the original article on Business Insider

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