Japanese drinks group Suntory is designing different forms of protective headgear and face coverings that will allow for safe drinking in pubs and bars.
According to a report by the Financial Times, Suntory’s chief executive, Takeshi Niinami, tasked a group of employees with creating prototypes for a face covering which will not detract from the experience of a night out.
The initiative comes as numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Japan have risen in recent weeks as the country steps up tracing, but continues to ease restrictions. Tokyo reported 119 new cases yesterday (13 July) after four consecutive days with over 200. Japan as a whole has reported around 23,000 confirmed cases, with almost 1,000 deaths.
Suntory is developing shields that can be worn in Japanese izakaya bars, and has already come up with a number of ideas, which according to the FT, range in appearance from an astronaut’s helmet to an adapted sun visor.
While trials have already taken place, Suntory is yet to decide on the final design.
The drinks group is not alone. Los Angeles-based company Production Club has created a full-body suit called Micrashell, a form of PPE designed to allow users to dance, drink and even vape in close proximity.
Meanwhile, a team of inventors in Israel have developed a mask with a remote control mouth, which they say has the potential to transform the experience of dining out during the pandemic.
Other unusual approaches to social distancing in hospitality include pool noodle hats and designer dining lampshades.
The UK is cautiously reopening hospitality outlets, with England and Northern Ireland already allowing indoor facilities to trade. Scotland is due to reopen indoor outlets tomorrow (15 July) while hospitality businesses in Wales must wait until 3 August.
The government has announced that face coverings are to be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from 24 July. It joins countries including Scotland, Germany, Italy and Spain in imposing such a measure.