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Popular Restaurant Adds Mannequins for Social Distancing

2020-5-25

Operators of one of the country’s most famous restaurants say mannequins can add some fun and help with social distancing in public places. The Inn at Little Washington has placed several throughout its eating area, or dining room. The restaurant in Virginia plans to reopen its dining room May 29, as the state is expected to ease restrictions on gatherings inside restaurants.

The mannequins wear 1940s-style clothing and sit at several tables. The Inn is in the low hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 90 minutes by car from Washington, D.C.

“When we needed to solve the problem of social distancing and reducing our restaurant’s occupancy by half, the solution seemed obvious,” Patrick O’Connell said in a statement. He is chef and owner of the restaurant. He said the mannequins create the required space between guests. But, he said they also bring smiles to faces and might be used to make some fun photos.

O’Connell’s restaurant is not the only one trying out unusual ideas to ease the practice of social distancing.

In this image made from Saturday, May 16, 2020, video provided by Revolution Event Design & Production,
In this image made from Saturday, May 16, 2020, video provided by Revolution Event Design & Production, "bumper tables," created by the company and designed to allow people to practice social distancing.

In Maryland, for example, a coastal restaurant is using “bumper tables” to welcome back dine-in guests. The round, one-person tables have an air-filled tube around them and wheels at the bottom. Guests can move them around and bump into other tables for fun while keeping a 2-meter distance between people.

And in Germany, a restaurant is trying to keep guests at a cafe at a safe distance by providing them hats to wear. The hats have two pool noodles attached to the top. The hats look funny but also help guests quickly realize if they get too close to others. The restaurant also has limited its dine-in service by more than 50 percent.

What funny or unusual things are restaurants or stores in your area doing to keep visitors at a safe distance? Tell us in the comments.

I’m Alice Bryant.

The Associated Press reported these stories. Alice Bryant adapted them for Learning English. Additional information comes from CNN. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

mannequin - n. a figure shaped like a human body that is used for making or displaying clothes

obvious - adj. easy to see or notice

chef - n. a professional cook who usually is in charge of a kitchen in a restaurant

photo - n. a picture made by a camera

pool noodle - n. a cylinder-shaped piece of foam that is used by people when swimming