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Coronavirus in NYC: Magnolia Installs UV Lights to Battle Spread of Disease

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There’s no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but restaurants are apparently willing to try anything to ease people’s concerns for the return — including installing newfangled lightbulbs that supposedly kill viruses without harming the human body. Crowd-favorite Magnolia Bakery is gearing up to welcome customers by adding new ultraviolet lights that reportedly kill off airborne virus particles, the New York Post reports. The bakery will begin installing the lights at its flagship Bleecker Street location in the West Village and at its Upper West Side outpost on Columbus Avenue, the only two Magnolia locations that are currently open for local pick-up and delivery orders. Though these lights by no means guarantee protection from COVID-19, the bakery’s decision to install them stems from new technology that’s been developed by Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research. While the research team is still testing how effective it is in killing the strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, the research center’s head David Brenner says the results are “encouraging,” according to a news bulletin on the University’s website last month. Conventional UV light is known for killing viruses, but it’s also harmful to humans. The technology developed at Columbia, however, involves a wavelength of UV light called far-UVC, which in low doses can kill viruses and bacteria without endangering humans, the university’s research shows. At the UWS location, customers will pass through slimmer versions of metal detectors or “cleanse portals,” as they’re called by the company producing them, and be asked to turn 360 degrees as they stand under this far-UVC light for 20 seconds. The store’s recessed lighting, along with the one at the West Village shop, will also be replaced by far-UVC light, according to the Post. The detector and the lights are produced by a company called Healthe, and while pricing for the products isn’t listed online, Columbia estimates the lights cost anywhere between $500 to $1,000 per lamp, with prices likely to fall if they are mass produced. Still, the technology is relatively new — Columbia has been testing it for the last eight months — and Brenner tells the Post that the lights are only an effective measure in addition to all other existing safety precautions including regular sanitization of surfaces, and social distancing. Magnolia plans to install the lights at its other four NYC locations before they reopen, according to the Post. Magnolia’s move is the latest example of an NYC dining establishment gradually preparing for the future of dining in the city. In the East Village, a soon-to-open fast food dumpling shop is installing temperature sensor-equipped detectors and automat-style dining to overcome diners’ fears of eating out again. Eater has reached out to Magnolia for more details. Magnolia Bakery to combat coronavirus with futuristic ‘cleanse portal’ [NYP] Magnolia Bakery 200 Columbus Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10023 (212) 724-8101 Visit Website
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