A Paris-based designer has launched a protective bubble to enclose diners in a bid to satisfy physical distancing rules in restaurants when they reopen.
Christophe Gernigon says his Plex'Eat, which resembles a giant bell-jar that hangs from the ceiling and encloses a diner and their food and drink, offers "total freedom of movement" in an aesthetically pleasing design. A cut-out at the back allows diners to move in and out of the protective bubble when they arrive and leave.
He believes the innovation will maximise safety and confidence for diners in restaurants by minimising face-to-face contact with other guests and staff as restaurants start to reopen in the wake of the pandemic.
Gernigon said: "Design's role is to give a new spark to our everyday lives. When I saw proposals to place plexiglas dividers on restaurant tables, it gave me the impression of being in a prison visiting room.
"I told myself that I had to imagine a more beautiful, attractive, poetic, elegant object that offers a unique experience. Even if we don't want to remain indefinitely under a bell jar, the Plex'Eat protective bubbles I invented will let restaurants open rapidly in total security."
Following successful prototypes, French company Sitour, part of the ISD Group, is working with Gernigon to manufacture Plex'Eat on a mass-scale.
Gernigon's invention has already sparked "international demand" from bars, restaurants and hotels around the world, as well as public spaces and offices. The designer said the Plex'Eat was extremely simple to set up and take apart, easy to clean and disinfect and is suitable for all types of establishments.
The concept follows in the footsteps of "intimate dining green houses" which were launched by a restaurant in Amsterdam to comply with social distancing rules.
Meanwhile in the UK, the hospitality industry is expecting an official update on a potential opening date and revised distancing guidelines, after prime minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the two-metre rule could be relaxed.