Unusual idea to protect staff and customers during a state of emergency might just work.

On 6 April, Prime Minister Abe declared a state of emergency for seven Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo, giving ruling mayors and governors the power to ask businesses and transit operators to close temporarily in order to curb the current spike in coronavirus cases.

The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, has announced she will be listing the businesses required to close at a press conference this Friday, but one thing she has made clear is that essential businesses will remain open. One of these essential businesses is the humble convenience store, which will be helping locals out with all their daily shopping needs during the crisis.

While convenience stores will be providing an essential service to the public, they still need to protect the health and safety of their staff and customers. According to photos that have been appearing online, though, some of these convenience stores appear to have hit upon a smart solution.

The above tweet shows a 7-Eleven convenience store with a plastic sheet hanging down from the ceiling, separating the customer and clerk with a see-through protective screen. People online were quick to applaud this simple low-tech idea, sending the tweet viral with over 130,000 likes and 30,000 retweets, and it wasn’t long before photos of other similar plastic sheeting scenes began appearing in the replies.

▼ Trams in Nagasaki have been using the system for a while in the driver’s booth.


▼ This is a more bizarre setup that might seem good in theory, but isn’t quite so practical…

Shimane Prefecture — one of only three prefectures in Japan, along with Tottori and Iwate, with zero coronavirus cases — recently made news for its own low-tech countermeasures, using plastic and cardboard partitions at their prefectural offices.

A number of people remarked that they’ve seen other 7-Elevens in Japan begin to employ the plastic sheeting system, while others commented that stores overseas have been adopting similar techniques to combat the spread of outbreaks in their region.

▼ A 7-Eleven in Cebu, in the Phillipines.

▼ At a supermarket in Germany.

Back in Japan, other convenience store chains have adopted a slightly different approach to things, by placing retractable belt stanchions in front of the counter. A sign here explains that the store would like customers to maintain a “social distance” of two metres (6.6 feet).

Let’s face it, though – keeping a distance of two metres between customer and clerk can be a difficult task while making a transaction, so here’s hoping the plastic sheeting option starts appearing at all convenience stores and supermarkets soon too.

That way we can safely pop out and do a quick shop for sakura cakes and chicken nuggets to keep us going while we hunker down inside and wait to see if the month-long state of emergency does anything to help flatten the rising curve of infections.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image ©SoraNews24

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