MTA, NYC Restaurants Going to New Lengths To Keep Customers Safe and Clean

One popular NYC bakery has reopened, and established a slew of safety and cleanliness measures to ensure customers feel comfortable — one of which the MTA is also employing to clean subways and buses

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New Yorkers are itching to get out of their homes more with each passing day, wanting to visit the stores, shops and especially restaurants they used to frequent before the coronavirus.

Most retail shops have remained closed, but some eateries are opening their doors — and want customers to enjoy their good with peace of mind, willing to go to some inventive new levels to make that possible.

One popular NYC bakery has reopened, and has established a slew of safety and cleanliness measures to ensure customers feel comfortable entering their shop.

NBC New York's Ray Villeda reports.

Hand sanitizer, social distancing markers, plexiglass — each can be found at most places these days. But at the original Magnolia Bakery, on the corner of Bleeker Street and West 11th Street in the West Village, new technology is helping in their fight against COVID-19.

The sweet treat shop is applying a walk-thru arch that uses ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria on skin and clothing. Additionally, Cleanse Downlights, which look entirely look normal lights, will hang from the ceiling and air sanitizing troffers will be installed at retail and production sites.

"It's wavelengths. There's nothing you feel, there's nothing you see, nothing is blasting you, you don't really even know that you're doing it," said Magnolia's Chief Baking Officer Bobbie Lloyd. "It's just there. That will really comfort people a little bit."

The idea to use UV light to clean areas is becoming more and more popular, as businesses and agencies try to find efficient ways to clean effectively. In a joint collaboration with Columbia University, the MTA has also started using UV lights to clean trains — a process officials say is not only faster, but kills more germs and viruses than washing with soap.

The transit agency is hoping the new $1 million tool, which will be used on subway cars, buses and staff workplaces before being tried out on Metro North and Long Island Rail Road, will shed new light on a way to derail COVID-19 from spreading on public transportation.

The PURO lighting company made the 150 devices, and the MTA hopes they will help clean better in hopes of cutting down on cleanup costs, which are expected to run hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

"We've shown that the UV light that is going to be used in the overnight bus and subway disinfection program is very efficient in killing the virus that is responsible for COVID-19," said Columbia researcher Dr. David Brennan.

The UV devices are installed on unoccupied trains, with the cleaning cycle running for about a half hour.

"The nice thing with light is that it doesn't miss. So when you might be using soap and water, chemical spray or a manual wipedown, there's always the chance for human error. You might miss one spot," said Webb Lawrence, who works at PURO.

One restaurant talks about all the changes it plans to make when they can finally reopen. Adam Harding reports.

There are other city restaurants using different technology to help keep diners and employees safe. The Brooklyn Chop House posted on social media that everyone who goes to eat at their Lower Manhattan spot can expect full body, infrared scanners at the entrance that will check temperatures and kill viruses.

There will also be plexiglass dividers keeping groups of diners separate and the staff will wear face shields, with servers sporting custom face masks. The restaurant said it will also be strict about customers wearing facemasks when they enter, though they can be taken off when they sit down.

Even with more precautions taken and losing about 25-30 percent of their seating in order to adhere to social distancing measures, management doesn't believe the restaurant will be able to open until likely mid-July.

Over in the Bowery, a sushi restaurant is using an entirely different strategy to help avoid contamination. Kissaki is helping cut down on human contact with the food, but limiting the number of human hands that will actually be touching the ingredients. Instead the restaurant, which opened in January, has added robots that will help make the rolls.

Executive Chef Mark Garcia said that the robots will make the process "quicker, more safe and efficient."

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