PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Serving up a safe space, businesses are officially reopening in El Dorado County and adapting to new protocols in place to keep customers safe.

Makeshift protective barriers sit between you and your fellow diners at the bar at Powells Steamer Company and Pub in downtown Placerville.

Owner Sheila Kelly says her husband, a contractor, built them so their customers would feel comfortable paying them a visit. “He dreamed these things up and they seem to be working,” she said.

Built with just some PVC pipe and plastic coverings, the idea was to prevent the spread of water droplets between customers.

Kelly, who’s often behind the bar, will sport a mask when they’re open.

“These [plastic sheets] come off and get washed and sanitized and put back on. We can have them for a while, I hope not! But we have them if we need them,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an infectious disease expert, says the plastic barriers could be effective.

“Is it necessary? That’s going to depend on the local epidemiology,” he said.

But he added, it’s not likely necessary in a county where the number of cases is so low.

“As the infections become less and less common, these interventions aren’t going to make a lot of sense,” Klausner said.

But they could spark a trend in town. CBS13 showed the barriers to the manager at Cascada Cantina and Restaurant just down the street. They too were packed for lunch on a Monday.

“People are excited to be back,” said Kim Johnston.

They also have their own safety measures in place.

“We’re really sanitizing the chairs, every place anybody would touch. We’re using extra sanitizing strategies on the menus,” she said.

The state recommends restaurants provide disposable menus and make them available online so customers can view them on a cell phone.

Johnston hasn’t seen the strategy anywhere else, but she’s ready to have fewer barriers, not more.

“I think people would endure it for a while, but it’s odd. Hopefully soon, we will be mask-less,” she said.

The inspiration for the barriers came from the Governor, who said that limiting face-to-face interactions is the right way to go.

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Marissa Perlman

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