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Pinellas restaurant adds shoe sanitizing technology to prevent COVID-19 spread

Posted at 4:09 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 19:03:36-04

TIERRA VERDE, Fla. — Starting Monday, restaurants across Florida are able to open their dining rooms to 50% capacity.

One Pinellas County eatery is using a high tech solution to help keep their customers safe. The Island Grille and Raw Bar in Tierra Vierde recently added footwear sanitation technology at the restaurant's entrance to curb the spread of COVID-19 and other bacteria.

Customers step onto the mat and wait 8 seconds for the device to beep. The St. Petersburg developer of the technology, PathO3Gen Solutions, says it eliminates 99.999% of bacteria and pathogens from the bottom of your shoes using UVC lights and ozone.

Jean Bergren was one of the first customers on Monday to try out the device.

“I thought it was pretty neat looking, so I decided to take a step on and clean my feet,” she said.

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Ted Kalivas, the general manager of The Island Grille & Raw Bar, says the footwear sanitation technology is one of a series of changes the restaurant has made due to COVID-19.

“It’s just one more step to try to make everything better, make people feel safer, and to make the restaurant cleaner,” he explained.

The Island Grille and Raw Bar is also taking the temperature of each employee who shows up to work, wearing gloves, sanitizing tables and keeping all groups more than 6 feet apart.

PathO3Gen, the company that created the foot sanitizing stations, tells ABC Action News they were originally designed for hospitals and doctor’s offices, but with COVID-19, more companies are looking into the technology. They’ve been in discussions with sports venues, airports, including Tampa International, and nightclubs/bars, including Thirsty First in downtown St. Petersburg.

Jim Mueller of PathO3Gen Solutions says many people don't realize how much bacteria is on our shoes. “These microorganisms are all in our environment everywhere. We pick them up on our shoes and transport them everywhere we walk,” he added.

“Shoe soles are hard so they tend to live on these surfaces longer,” Scott Beal of PathO3Gen solutions added. "We wash our clothes, our hair, our hands...but when is the last time you washed the bottom of your shoes?"

Adventhealth in Lutz added the technology last year.

For Lauren DiMarco, one of the owners of The Island Grille and Raw Bar, it’s the first step in keeping her customers safe.

“I think it makes everyone feel a little bit better," she added.