Extra measures by the Japanese convenience stores by installing hanging plastic sheets to distance the staff behind cash registers and the customers. (Image via AFP)

Japanese convenience stores use plastic sheet as physical distancing measure

Japan’s convenience stores (konbini) have taken a whole new step in order to run their businesses while maintaining physical distancing during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. This ubiquitous konbinis hang transparent plastic sheets from the ceiling to provide a “barrier” between the customers and the staff at the cash registers.

Last week, the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures to suppress the number of COVID-19 cases. The state of emergency gives the authority the governors of these prefectures to close businesses and schools, cancel events, and urge their residents to stay indoors.

However, the konbinis remain open as they think their business is essential.

Throughout Japan, at least 58,000 konbinis remain operational for 24 hours. They sell everything from pre-made bento lunches to beer and snacks. Not only food and beverages, but they also offer package delivery and bill payment services.

What do the Japanese think of the plastic sheet? They actually feel safer. COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and infects people through droplets via coughing and sneezing. Therefore, by maintaining distance and install barriers, they feel a bit safer.

One of the largest convenience store chains in Japan, 7-Eleven of the Seven & i Holdings, asked its staff to wear masks, get their temperature checked, wash their hands, and sterilize their environment. About 150 7-Eleven stores in Tokyo have installed the plastic sheet.

Japan recorded 7,411 cases and 138 deaths from the virus per Monday, with the hot spot being in Tokyo at more than 2,000 cases.

Source: https://bit.ly/2xiDSMd