Covid: Why are Planes so Safe, yet Restaurants are so Risky?

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John Wilton-Davies

According to The Daily Telegraph, 40% of people planning on flying abroad think that the place they’re most likely to catch Covid is on the plane.  Yet apparently, out of 1.2 billion air travellers since the start of the pandemic, only 44 people are thought to have been infected while in the air - and most of these were before the wearing of masks became a requirement.

Meanwhile, restaurants and pubs are being closed all over the country due to the high infection rates amongst customers.  So what’s going on?

It’s known that the risk of infection is greater in indoor spaces, where lots of people gather, and when there’s little distance between them.  So you’d think an aeroplane would be the last place you’d want to be.  But there’s one crucial difference between the two.

Airlines, and probably most passengers, have known for years that an aircraft cabin are a breeding ground for infectious diseases so they did something about it - installing high quality ventilation and purification systems into virtually every passenger plane.  The combination of airflow and filtration ensures that viral particles breathed out by an infected person are largely blown away from other passengers’ faces and are rapidly trapped in the filters.

Restaurants, pubs, hotels, cinemas, shops, theatres, and the rest of the hospitality industry don’t seemed to have worked this out.  The government guidelines tell them to ensure the business is ‘well ventilated’ so, if we’re lucky, and it’s not cold or raining, they might open a window.  But that’s not going to do the job of a high-efficiency purifier so we end up with an increased R number, more restrictions and lots of head-scratching, when a few purifiers could do the same job and allow businesses to remain open.

All the purifiers we recommend trap airborne virus just as well as other pollutants, and typically cost less than a day’s takings.

If you are responsible for an indoor business and see how purification costs less than opening the windows in winter, do get in touch.

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