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COVID: SF Restaurants Use High-Tech Tools To Make Indoor Dining Safe

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Restaurants in San Francisco are ready to welcome back diners with the help of new technology. The city is expected to announce the move into the Red Tier on Tuesday.

When diners return indoors to La Mar on the Embarcardero, the food and the space will look familiar. But hidden in its HVAC system is patented technology that works to safely clean indoor air.

It's called NPBI from Global Plasma Solutions. The technology uses an electronic charge to create a plasma field filled with ions. They attach to airborne particles.

"This has been used in restaurants in Japan, where you kill the pathogens because you're literally ionizing them and they don't - you're ionizing the air and they need hydrogen in the air and they can't - and any virus that's living in the air cannot live. I think it would substitute for ventilation," said UCSF Infectious Disease Expert Monica Gandhi.

Dr. Gandhi says the technology is an appropriate idea as San Francisco enters the Red Tier. She emphasizes proper masking and distancing as critical to staying safe.

"If technology is there and they say it's safe, I say let's go for it, and we're obviously going to monitor the numbers and see what happens," said Jackie McAninch of San Francisco.

In SoMa, Wagyu-focused Japanese restaurant Gozu says a hospital-grade UV light sanitization system made by UV Guardian will help welcome customers back to a safe and clean environment. UV-C systems can kill airborne and contact surface pathogens when humans are not present.

"Both ions and UV light accomplish the same purpose - that anything that's hanging in the air - with ventilation it gets swept away - with UV light or ions it gets killed in the air," said Dr. Gandhi.

Under the Red Tier, indoor dining is allowed at 25 percent capacity.

"I wouldn't say I prefer indoor at this point, but I'd say it's definitely an option I'm looking forward to," said Zan Foltyniak of San Francisco.

The last time indoor dining was allowed in San Francisco was the end of September. If the announcement is made Tuesday, the city will officially move to the Red Tier on Wednesday.

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