Your bubble is ready: plastic pods offer solution for COVID dining in France

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020   •   434

For restaurateurs worrying how they can welcome back customers but keep them safe from COVID-19, a French designer has a solution: an oversized lampshade made of transparent plastic that encases a customer’s head as they eat.

The cylindrical device hangs from a cable on the ceiling, much like a lampshade, and has a scoop cut out of the back so that a diner can sit down and get back up without having to bend over double.

The designer behind the invention, Christophe Gernigon, said designs that are already on the market looked like booths in prison visiting rooms, so were not inviting for customers.

“I wanted to make it more glamorous, more pretty,” he said. His design will go into production next week, and he said he had received interest from France, Belgium, Canada, Japan and Argentina.

France is starting to relax some of the restrictions it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Shops and hairdressers have re-opened, and some children are back at school.

But the government has yet to give the green light for the re-opening of restaurant and bars, which have been hit hard financially by the crisis, because they pose particular problems for disease control.

The Plex’Eat accessory will be produced by French company Sitour, with an average of 10,000 unit produced weekly, Sitour sales officer France de Souza said.

It will cost around 150 euros a piece, de Souza said, although the price is not yet fixed.

Diners cannot eat while wearing a surgical mask, and if tables were removed to ensure customers are a safe distance from each other, many owners say they would not be able to make enough money to cover their costs.

Mathieu Manzoni, owner of the H.A.N.D restaurant that serves American-style food not far from Paris’ Louvre museum, invited Gernigon to the restaurant this week to hear his pitch. Manzoni said he was planning to place an order.

“Will people like it? I can’t say but I want to believe that it can add something because I find it fun,” he said in his restaurant, which is open for takeaway orders only. (Reuters)

(Production: Noemie Olive, Antony Paone, Emilie Delwarde)

LTO sets up guidelines for registration of e-scooters

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed governments to impose transport restrictions to curb virus transmission among commuters.

As an alternative to common modes of transportation, the public resorted to old-school bicycles and its modern counterparts — the e-scooter and e-bikes.

Such vehicles have been helpful to some especially healthcare professionals and other essential workers who are spared from facing the hassle of commuting to work on mass transportation and the risk of infection that it entails.

“Iyong convenience ng e-scooter? Never na ako nag-commute ulit ever since October 2019,” said Syd Henrie Arriesgado, an occupational therapist who goes to work on his e-scooter.

“Pupunta ako sa work, nag-i e-scooter na lang ako,” he added.

Syd is one of the many individuals who now own such a vehicle but are not covered by any transport regulation at the moment. 

This is why, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is now drafting a guideline that will regulate the use of e-scooters by updating the provisions of Republic Act 4136 or the Act to Compile the Laws Relative to Land Transportation and Traffic Rules.

Under the existing law, any vehicle that uses oil fuel or electricity must be registered and the owner should possess a valid license.

The LTO also stressed that the use of e-scooters must be governed by a certain law since it is small in size and requires balancing which is prone to accidents.

The agency is awaiting the approval of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the proposed guidelines.

“Una, kailangan may lisensya o rehistrado. Pangalawa, kung saan pwedeng gamitin, anong klaseng lansangan pwedeng gamitin. Pangatlo ano ang kailangang protective gear na suot nila para naman kung hindi ma-prevent ay mabawasan ang injuries,” explained LTO Chief and DOTr Undersecretary Edgar Galvante.

But an e-scooter advocate group, “Electric Kick Scooter” questioned the timing of the guideline’s release.

“I can’t really take it against LTO. Mandato ng Constitution but the thing is it’s really bad timing during this pandemic season. Ang mga frontliners ito ang ginagamit na mode of transportation,” argued Tim Vargas, the group’s chairman.

Galvante on the other hand, said, “Hindi dito iniisip ang ill-timing. Kung ang kino-consider siguro ay safety, wala ritong tamang timing.”

The LTO, however, cannot tell yet as to when the guidelines will be released, but assured the public of prompt issuance once DOTr greenlights the proposal. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte calls for equal access to COVID-19 vaccine at UN assembly

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized that all countries, rich or poor, should have equal access to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine “as a matter of policy.”

In a pre-recorded video message to the UN convention that aired on Wednesday, Duterte stressed the necessity of coordinated international plans and efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, which he called as the “biggest test the world and the United Nations faced since World War II.”

He also pointed out that ensuring universal access to COVID-19 technologies and products to combat COVID-19 would be “pivotal in the global pandemic recovery.”

“The world is in the race to find a safe and effective vaccine. When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy,” he said.

“The Philippines joins our partners in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Non-Aligned Movement in raising our collective voice: the COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good,” he added.

Duterte also welcomed the launch of UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund which is designed to aid low and middle-income countries to overcome the health and development crisis caused by the pandemic as well as support those severely affected by the economic and social disruption it caused.

“COVID-19 knows no border. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed,” he said.

“The Philippines values the role that the United Nations plays in its fight against the pandemic. As a middle-income country whose economic advances have been derailed by the pandemic, we welcome the launch of the UN COVID Response and Recovery Fund,” he added.

During his speech, Duterte also recognized the sacrifices of medical professionals and other workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic.

“We salute all frontliners who put their lives on the line even in countries not their own. So also do we honor and recognize the healthcare professionals who selflessly answered the call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic despite its virulence and unknown characteristics,” he said.

The viral respiratory disease has so far infected over 31 million people across the globe.

In the Philippines, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 291,789 as of Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOH readies storage plan for COVID-19 vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is now preparing to establish a vaccine cold chain for the storage of vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

The agency wants to make sure that the vaccines are well kept to maintain efficacy that may be compromised if not stored in a suitable temperature and environment.

The vaccine cold chain is a supply chain comprised of three important components – air vessels, trucks, and cold storage warehouses – for the transportation and safekeeping of vaccines from origin to destination.

“Kasama po sa paghahanda natin ang [Part of our preparations is] logistics management which includes warehousing and the distribution of these vaccines, ” said Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

“We are very much aware of these specific temperatures that have to go along with the storage of specific vaccines,” she added.

According to experts, potential vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer can only be stored in a certain level of temperature: – 4 degrees Fahrenheit for Moderna’s and -94 degrees Fahrenheit for Pfizer’s.

Any temperature higher or lower than the said prescribed temperatures will invalidate the vaccines.

“Ito po ay kasama sa ating pag-uusap but mayroon na tayong plano ukol dito para magkaroon po tayo ng adequate at appropriate na logistics management system when it comes to vaccines [This has been part of the discussion, but we already have a plan regarding this so we could have adequate and appropriate logistics management system when it comes to vaccines],” Vergeire said. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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