Five unique physical distancing concepts being trialed in restaurants around the world

Five unique physical distancing concepts being trialed in restaurants around the world
Cafe & Konditorei Rothe / Facebook
With B.C. restaurants set to open, here are five concepts being trialed by eateries around the world in an effort to uphold proper distancing.

With B.C. getting set to reopen restaurants as part of phase two of its COVID-19 Restart Plan, many businesses and consumers are considering what a dine-in experience with proper physical distancing might entail.

Business owners are having to figure out how to offer adequate, safe service while following the guidance of health officials and eliminating risk.

This is the case not just in our province, but for the majority of restaurants across the globe, who are hoping to navigate the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge of keeping customers six feet apart for proper physical distancing can be puzzling and that has sparked some creative, bizarre approaches in restaurants around the world.

While some may opt for sidewalk chalk and tape, these five restaurants went with more unique and inventive methods.

Glass Dining Pods – Amsterdam


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A waterfront restaurant in the Netherlands, Mediamatic ETEN, has opted for individual glass dining pods in an effort to physically distance parties.

The Amsterdam-based eatery installed multiple greenhouse-like huts that can fit a maximum of three people. The company’s social media channels said the project, which is being called Serres SepareĂ©s, has been in a trial run, but was seemingly a success as the pods are entirely booked up for the near future.

In addition to the glass pods safety approach, Mediamatic ETEN said on their Facebook page that staff will be wearing 3D-printed face masks as well.

Pool Noodle Hats – Germany

Customers trial pool noodle hats at a cafe in Germany (Cafe & Konditorei Rothe/Facebook)

Ok, glass pods aren’t that bizarre, but where Amsterdam chose to try building structures, a cafe in Germany tried making hats. Pool noodle hats to be specific.

This pastry shop in Schwerin, Germany is using these colourful pool noodle hats as a way for customers to know when they are getting too close to someone else. The humorous approach to distancing is complimented by a significantly reduced restaurant capacity as well.

Now, by my best-educated guess, we won’t see a bunch of customers dining on a Vancouver Island patio this summer wearing one of these, but the innovation is worth sharing.

Inner Tube Tables – Maryland, USA


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“It’s like a bumper boat, but it’s actually a table.”

That’s a quote from Shawn Harman, owner of Fish Tales Bar & Grill in Maryland, on the company’s Facebook page. These individual tubes allow for customers to congregate, without crossing into the space of someone else. The tubes come with an inner table surface as well as wheels that allow for mobility. The tables themselves were built by and rented from a third-party company, Revolution Event Design and Production, according to Fish Tales.

From a practical sense, it is hard to see these being effective for things like stairs or washrooms or even restaurant navigation, but it is certainly an outside-the-box physical distancing concept.

Cutouts and Chatter – Australia


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A restaurant owner at Five Dock Dining in Australia decided to add cardboard cutouts to tables that would be intentionally left empty.

In addition to the cutouts of people ‘enjoying’ their dine-in experience, Five Dock will be pumping background chatter through the sound system. Although cutouts and chatter don’t actually help with the physical distancing aspect, the goal is to make customers feel they aren’t eating in an empty restaurant. The smiles that result are just an added bonus.

In the same mindset, some restaurants have opted to use mannequins instead of cardboard cutouts.


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Table Barriers – Thailand

Barriers on tables are part of unique physical distancing methods being used in Thailand

Table dividers being used at an eatery in Thailand (Penguin Eat Shabu / Facebook)

An eatery in Thailand has created in-house table barriers in an effort to keep diners separated. The barriers decorate tables in a snake-like fashion, allowing individual customers space for plates, hot pots, and food.


Graham CoxGraham Cox

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