Want a Table for Two at This Restaurant? Temperature, Please

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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.” 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7zrUYfhNyS/

Notice to Prevent and Control Wuhan New Coronavirus (nCoV) Our dearest friends of Sichuan Impression, After a Washington state resident was diagnosed with the new coronavirus infection, a second US case was confirmed in Chicago on the 24th. On the same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a top-level tourist warning for the outbreak in Hubei, China, recommending planned travelers to cancel any unnecessary trips to the area. (from BBC NEWS) As a Chinese restaurant rooted in Los Angeles that aims at thriving the traditional Chinese culinary culture, Sichuan Impression also pays close attention to the development of this new epidemic. According to the news, infections are rapidly spreading across China. We at Sichuan Impression respect and enjoy having our guests who come from all corners of the world. Offering you a healthy and safe dinning environment is also upheld as our top priority. After taking careful consideration, we wish to adopt the following prevention and control measures and we sincerely ask for the cooperation from each and every guest: 1. We will use infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of each guest who comes to dine; 2. If any abnormal symptom, such as fever, is identified, we will immediately assist to contact the nearest medical service; 3. If you refuse to cooperate with the temperature measurement, we have to regretfully deny the service to you for the time being; 4. We encourage everyone to order “to-go” for the time being, and will offer 5% off discount for the entire order. It has been 6 years since Sichuan Impression opened, and to treat everyone who comes to dine equally has always been our basic principle. We are grateful for your cooperation during this extraordinary period. Sichuan Impression January 26,2020 #sichuanimpression #锦城里

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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. 

 

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