As life returns to some semblance of normality and we begin to frequent the bars, cafe and restaurants as we did back in the pre-pandemic era, attentions for establishment owners have turned to safeguarding and infection-proofing their premises.
Sanitising stations are here to stay and the new normal for owners and staff include more regular cleaning of facilities and a reduced seating capacity for the purposes of that all-important social distancing. For many, adaptation and innovation has been the order of a surreal few months.
Innovation has been the cornerstone of Conor and Deirdre MacCormack’s career in business. The husband-and-wife team have spent some of their time during lockdown working towards creating solutions for businesses and other public spaces to help curb the spread of Covid-19 once people resumed their daily activities.
Formerly of Mcor Technologies, the Dunleer-based company who developed the world’s first 3d printing using paper rather than plastic or other materials, the pandemic enforced lockdown led the duo to think about how they could give back. It eventually led them to the creation of the CurbCovid Foot Handle.
“We had a few 3D printers in the house,” Deirdre explains. “We began printing face shields, just to give something back. We gave them out to local businesses. Conor came up with a design for this foot handle. The idea behind it is to curb the spread of Covid. You attach them onto a latchless door – wood or metal. It’s extra strong so it withstands time and damage.
Already, the smart handle is being used at a number of test sites in the north east, including Chai Yo Japanese restaurant in central Dublin. It is simple in its design and premise. The ‘handle’ can be attached to any latchless door and used to pull open, helping patrons to avoid using the door handles, a prime breeding ground for disease.
Users simply grip their foot onto the device and pull, allowing them to open the door completely hands-free. As Deirdre tells us, the inventors’ philosophy is hands free, germ free, Covid free.
“The statistics are a bit wild – you find out people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom. One in four people don’t wash their hands at all,” Deirdre says. “The idea of touching door handles on the exit from a bathroom – it’s startling how bad it is. It could really accelerate the spread of the Covid again.
“There’s lots of things that are mandatory now but we’d like people to see the benefit of adding this in to their restrooms. It’s an extra thing to have to prevent the spread of the germs. People are extra alert and mindful now as to what they’re touching.”
Feedback so far has been positive. “It’s going down well and it’s standing the test of use. It’s made out of galvanised steel. We’re getting the feedback and we’re happy with it. We’re ready to start rolling it out further now.”
The roll out, Deirdre and Conor hope, will include more restaurants, cafes, bars and public spaces that have restroom facilities such as leisure facilities, schools and shopping centres. They hope to partner with other businesses already providing hygiene and anti-Covid supplies. Other products that could form part of the CurbCovid portfolio are being developed. a
“We’d like to get a bit of momentum behind it, now that people are out and about more in public spaces. It’s doing something for the better good,” Deirdre adds.