Staying healthy this winter is on everyone’s mind, with many wondering what they can do to stay safe and protect others from illness. From mask requirements to gathering size restrictions, individuals and businesses are trying their best to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but some measures may not be enough. Enter sanitization technology, which many are saying is the future of restaurant safety. Sanitization technology goes beyond just wiping down tables and chairs between guests. Here are just a few ways restaurants are using tech to help keep employees and customers safe from the spread of illness.

UVC Sanitization

UVC Sanitization uses a special UVC light fixture, which constantly sanitizes a room by killing dangerous microbes. Unlike UV shock treatments, UVC Sanitization is safe for use while people are in the room, allowing it to run continuously.

UV Shock Treatments

UV shock treatments use a combination of UV lighting and a non-toxic coating that goes on the surfaces in the treated area. While the UV light kills viruses, the coating helps keep them off surfaces for up to 90 days. This solution works well but cannot be used while people are present.

Fans and UVC

Another method that restaurants are using is fans that draw air into UVC lights. This method is not safe for human exposure. However, restaurants like The Blind Horse aim their lights at the ceiling, so they can continuously run the fans and treat the air while customers and employees are present.

UVA / UVC Air Filters

New York City-based Bluestone Lane has installed a product called Healthe Air, which operates with a rectangular lighting device that pulls air into a charcoal filter and blasts it with UVA and UVC light, killing viruses. Because the light is inside the device, it can be used while people are present.

Dual Mode UVC Sanitization

An Israeli company called Juganu has debuted a product that uses UVC technology that can adapt to whether people are present in the room during treatment. The device, called J. Protect, can switch modes using red and blue light but appear to the eye as white light. These lights can inactivate viruses and bacteria up to 39 feet from the device. The human-safe mode runs continuously, while the accelerated mode sanitizes in just three minutes when no humans are present.

Sanitizing Robots

Ava Robotics has a new prototype robot similar to a robotic vacuum that moves around spaces and can sanitize surfaces and air with UVC lights. The robot must be run absent of humans, and Ava Robotics recommends it to be run between restaurant shifts to protect customers and workers.

Hospital Grade Cleaning Products

Finally, for restaurants who opt to use cleaning products, some manufactures offer hospital-grade cleaning products that can be used manually to sanitize spaces. Some products require employees to become certified in their use, as they must be applied at the correct concentration and for specific amounts of time.

Should You Invest?

While it is up to the individual business whether or not they should invest in sanitization technology, some believe it is the wave of the future and may someday be required. For now, the FDA says that these new technologies are not foolproof, and substances like bodily fluids may decrease their efficacy, but they still offer a better chance of killing dangerous viruses than simple commercial grade cleansers alone. The FDA also cautions that UVC lighting could take longer to kill viruses, as they only use very low-grade radiation, but with the proper planning for cleaning times, this may not be an issue for many restaurants.

These are all factors that should be taken into consideration when investing in sanitization technology. But with such dangerous viruses spreading their way across communities and with winter approaching, an investment may go a long way towards stopping the spread of viruses.