Diners can now enjoy eating while talking without fear of potentially spreading the novel coronavirus thanks to a handheld mask developed by the head of an arts university in western Japan.
The "table manner mask," the brainchild of Masako Sasaki of Kyoto Saga University of Arts, consists of a paper handle stapled onto a stringless face mask or a coffee filter paper. It can be held in one hand and saves the trouble of taking a mask on and off while eating.
"A meal is a meal only when there is conversation," Sasaki said. "We want to devise ways to reduce everyday inconveniences and initiate a new basic etiquette created in Kyoto."
In late August, around 20 people tested the mask at a food-tasting event in Kyoto. Participants, who included those in the hotel and restaurant business, found it not as cumbersome as they thought and that they felt "safe" using it.
However, another said it was "inconvenient to not be able to use my left hand."
"It's very effective because the point is to reduce droplets," said Takayuki Miyazawa, associate professor of Kyoto University's Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, who participated in the event.
"It'll be one way to return to normalcy," he added.
Students of the art university will propose other designs following advice from medical personnel regarding the appropriate material for the masks and their proper usage.