Coronavirus News: Magnolia Bakery installing disease-destroying UV lights

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- As businesses look ahead to reopening and keeping staff and customers safe from COVID-19, one of the most popular dessert shops in NYC has found a high-tech way to zap away the virus.

At Magnolia Bakery on the Upper West Side, they come for the cupcakes. They stand in line for them, but they don't come for COVID.

So now the bakery is about to be the first restaurant in the country to install a potentially disease-destroying far-ultraviolet light.

"Our staff is in here for extended periods of time and we know that some of the ways you're more likely to get COVID is extended exposure," said COO Bobbie Lloyd.

The customer will walk through a portal -- a new doorframe that emits UV light. It's more narrow than a regular door, but otherwise not much else will be different.

It looks similar to a metal detector and the makers say it zaps COVID out of the air and off surfaces.

It's a little bit like the UVC rolled out by the MTA to disinfect trains, buses and stations -- but safer.

"The system that we are proposing is a 220 nanometer system that's been found to be safe for our skin and eyes and we can occupy that space at the same time the lights been turned on," said Chief Scientific Officer of Healthe Lighting Fred Maxik.

And experts say don't be surprised to see more of this technology pop up at other restaurants and public spaces.

"We first did studies with a couple of different coronaviruses, not the COVID-19 virus," said Professor David Brenner with Columbia University Medical Center. "It certainly killed those. And we're halfway through the studies with the COVID-19 virus and there doesn't seem to be any difference there."

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health says, "Until the value and safety of new technologies is assessed, the Department does not recommend these technologies - nor can they be a substitute for city and state mandates."

Magnolia is still going to require masks and gloves and social distancing and barriers -- but this will just be another layer.

"Anyone else that remembers 9/11 before and after, what it was like to go through airport security, things changed dramatically," Lloyd said. "And it took a while for us to get used to it, but we got used to it."

Magnolia hopes to have it installed by the end of the week.

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