With no end in sight to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Japanese conveyer belt sushi chain Kura Sushi Inc. has started introducing contactless services enabling customers to dine without interacting with staff as part of efforts to minimize the risk of infection.

Kura Sushi on Tuesday unveiled a new self-checkout machine in one of its two restaurants in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district, the company's first outlet to install a touchless device, which has sensors to capture finger motion allowing customers to make selections without tapping on the screen.

Kura Sushi Inc.'s self-checkout machine. (Kyodo)

On Friday, the company introduced a similar system at one of its outlets in Osaka Prefecture.

Before the pandemic, customers needed to pay bills in person, although the Osaka-based company has been advancing automation in its operations, including a computerized system that counts empty plates to calculate bills.

Starting off with Tokyo and Osaka, Kura Sushi plans to equip around 460 outlets across Japan with touchless checkout machines by the end of 2021, according to a company spokesman.

The device, however, requires customers to punch in codes for security reasons when paying by credit card.

Looking ahead, Kura Sushi aims for a complete makeover of its popular sushi eateries in the country so that customers are not required to touch any screens on which the coronavirus can survive.

Other companies have started adopting touchless technology to minimize human contact as the pandemic grinds on.

Japan Airlines Co. in August began testing two self-check-in machines at Haneda airport in Tokyo that do not require passengers to touch screens.

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