US Restaurants Use “Dummies” To Enforce Social Distancing

What can we do to solve the big problem of social distancing when restaurants and pubs can reopen?

A US restaurateur has devised an ingenious and rather novel way to both fill seats and enforce social distancing for when the coronavirus lockdown lifts by populating his eatery with life-size showroom dummies (mannequins).

The Inn at Little Washington, a famous Michelin starred restaurant in Washington, Virginia, formulated the solution to enforce social distancing while at the same time maintaining the impression that the restaurant is busy. In agreement with social distancing guidelines, the Inn will operate at half capacity when it reopens, and chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell has decided to “theatrically” dress tables in the dining room with dummies rather than leave them empty. And to make sure that it looks as convincing as possible, the restaurant is working with a locally based theatre company to create the “sets.”

Speaking to The Washingtonian Chef Patrick O’Connell told that instead of leaving empty tables, he intends to fill them with life-size mannequins dressed in period costumes supplied by the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.

According to the publication, waiting staff have been told to interact with the mannequins, including pouring them wine and asking about their evening.

The restaurant, which also has 23 bedrooms, was set to open on 15 May, but due to updated guidelines, it now plans to delay this until 29 May.

O’Connell told the Washingtonian that staff have conducted deep cleans using infrared light in order to create a safe environment for diners.

He added: “I think it would do people a world of good to reduce their anxiety level when they come out to a place which is still unaffected, because if you watch your television, you think that there isn’t such a place under a bubble.”

Faux humans aren’t the first bizarre interim dining measure to go viral amid the coronavirus lockdown. A vegan restaurant in Amsterdam aims to circumvent social-distancing concerns by having patrons sit in individual greenhouses.