APPEARING LIKE a character in a science fiction movie, Raymond Chu approaches a high arch-shaped device in a wall of mist, illuminated by ultra-violet light.
A robotic voice speaks his temperature as he gradually revolves, emerging from the blue fog.
He is wearing a face mask, however is clearly smiling– also he needs to be.
Mr Chu and his service partner Alan Shek own Oxford’s Paddyfields Chinese dining establishment and have, they say, the best protection versus the spread of coronavirus at any restaurant in the country.
The pair have invested more than ₤ 5,000 on technology and a comparable quantity on chemicals to make sure the Hythe Bridge Street dining establishment provides the very best safety and health money can buy.
While lots of dining establishments have actually gone for discretion, Mr Chu and Mr Shek have actually selected to go the other way, investing in innovation to turn the popular dining area into a safe space, where no virus dare tread.
” As far as we know, we are the only restaurant in the country to have this equipment,” says Mr Chu happily, as he shows the decontamination arch which he has had actually delivered in from China.
The arch, common in Japan and Korea, sprays anyone going into the restaurant in a light mist of hypochlorous acid– a weak, safe acid that forms when chlorine dissolves in water, which is declared to be100 times more effective as a disinfectant than bleach, eliminating bacteria and viruses instantly.
At the same time, guests are zapped with an ultra violet light sanitiser, before being requested to decontaminate their hands in the standard manner to which we have actually all quickly grown accustomed.
It likewise has an electronic speaking thermometer.
Around the restaurant, disinfecting mist wanders gently from gadgets and powerful cooling keeps the air fresh.
Restaurants are seated at tables walled off by transparent screens; tableware and chopsticks are steamed prior to use, brand-new non reusable menus are utilized with each sitting and waitresses wear masks and safety glasses.
But if it sounds interfering and extremely scientific, it is not.
As peace of mind, the procedures include a touch of theatre and fun– enhanced by the joyful personnel who are well practiced in the choreography of decontamination, and to whom this brave brand-new world is very much the ‘new typical’.
And the food, naturally, is tasty.
While settling down to one of their hallmark ‘steamboat’ banquets, in which fresh seafood, meat and vegetables are prepared at the table in an abundant broth, Mr Chu and Mr Shek told me more about the devices–.
and why they thought it was so essential to help the dining establishment– thought to be the earliest out there in Oxford, and renowned for its Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine– get better.
” Even prior to lockdown, we had seen organisation fall,” states Mr Chu.
” We depend on tourists– consisting of those from China– and numbers dramatically had dropped. Came the order to close, which was a shock. We had never closed in 38 years– not even at Christmas or Boxing Day.
” When we closed, we provided all our perishable stock to the community and to charity as we didn’t want to lose food. And then we hung out getting ourselves ready, so that when we were able to reopen, we might do so in the most safe way possible. We wanted individuals to feel comfortable and safe and to understand they might be available in and enjoy their preferred food in confidence.”.
He said that being a Chinese dining establishment had actually focussed their energies, with a requirement to conquer an unfair cultural stigma arising from China’s role in the pandemic.
” People still associate the virus with China and we want to put that to rest,” he states. “Great deals of individuals are still not confident however we hope that will change once they see the procedures we have actually put in.”.
Mr Shek says: “We are doing everything we potentially can. We have less cooking area personnel on and they are all in masks and goggles. Even the chopsticks are being steamed before offered to clients.”.
Mr Chu includes: “We are the only ones doing this in the nation, though you will see this equipment in Japan and Korea, where the arches are even used in the street. You can expect to see more of them here in the future, but for now, we are the very first.”.
And for how long did he anticipate the measures to remain in location? “It will take at least a year,” he says.
” Up until then we are doing what we can to assist people feel safe.”.