One restaurant has hit on a smart but unorthodox way to check Coronavirus’ spread.

By Tim Nelson
Updated March 10, 2020

Coronavirus, aka Covid-19, is an increasingly serious public health situation that’s caused widespread event cancellations, disrupted travel plans, and even led members of congress to go into self-imposed quarantine. Now, even restaurants are taking precautions that would seem extreme under normal circumstances to ensure their customers and staff are safe.

Since late January, potential patrons at any of the three Sichuan Impression locations in the LA area have had to submit to a temperature check in order to be seated. The process involves infrared thermometers, which let employees scan temperatures without touching customers. Anyone running a fever won’t be seated, nor will anyone who refuses to participate in the temperature check.

Shortly after they first introduced the policy, Sichuan Impression took to Instagram to explain the situation. “We at Sichuan Impression respect and enjoy having our guests who come from all corners of the world. Offering you a healthy and safe dining environment is also upheld as our top priority,” the caption reads. “We are grateful for your cooperation during this extraordinary period.”

The reaction in the comments seems to be mostly positive, possibly because Sichuan Impression was ahead of the curve in instituting these sorts of precautions. According to the Los Angeles Times, this and similar measures drew praise from the County Department of Public Health Director.

“We appreciate that our businesses are being creative; we understand that there is a lot of concern, and we welcome the fact that folks are looking at ways to minimize exposures within their businesses,” Barbara Ferrer said, though also noting that “those infrared thermometers are not 100%.”

As you’re no doubt aware by now, the most important thing anyone can do in this situation is stay home. The next most important thing you can do is not give in to the racial biases kicked up by the virus that have hurt the bottom line of Chinese restaurants. To that end, Sichuan Impression is encouraging its fans to place to-go orders through discounts so they can keep customers fed and money coming in.

Even amidst a potential public health crisis, people still have to eat and occasionally leave home. As the threat of the illness spreading into your community becomes increasingly less abstract, don’t be surprised if getting a table for two requires a temperature check.