Diners in a US beach town are bouncing back into eating out amid the coronavirus pandemic with a little help from inflatable inner tubes on wheels.
About a dozen of the so-called "bumper tables" were rolled out at Fish Tales, a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, on Saturday, news outlets reported. The inflated tube tables were created by Baltimore-based company Revolution Event Design & Production to allow people to practise social distancing while eating and talking in outdoor settings.
The devices feature a hole in the middle to accommodate people around 1.2m to 1.8m tall. Participants get a little spring in their step with wheels attached to the bottom for moving around — all while maintaining a 2-metre distance from each other.
"We wanted to come up with a creative and fun way to keep everyone safe and compliant, but still bring back the social and festive and party aspect of the event," Erin Cermak, the CEO of Revolution Event Design & Production, told the Baltimore Sun.
Shawn Harman, the owner of Fish Tales, said he and his wife have bought 10 bumper tables from Cermak's company. Harman said he plans to order 40 more tables so customers can enjoy their food and remain distanced while dining in the restaurant's parking lot.
"If you come in to get a pound of shrimp and a beer, you can stand in one of these and walk around and look at things and talk to people," Harman said. He said the reception to the bumper tables was positive when his family and friends took them for a trial run outside his restaurant Saturday.
"There are other restaurants in other parts of the country that have contacted us to get information to order them," Harman said.
Cermak, who is the cousin of Harman's wife, told the Baltimore Sun that many restaurants, cafes, and even a sports franchise have contacted her after news outlets reported on the tables. She said her company can customise them for businesses and also rent them out per day.