The A to Z About Sneeze Guards: Questions and Specifications

Helen Davies
Helen Davies
- 5 min read

Chances are that you’ve heard about protective shields for COVID-19 by now. Installed on different commercial premises, they serve as safeguards against germs, microbes and contaminated aerosols. They come in especially handy within heavy-traffic sites and crowded places where social distancing poses a challenge. So then what are sneeze guards exactly? Let’s take a look!

1. What are Protective Screens? History and Evolution

A sneeze guard is a screen that helps protect people or food from airborne contaminants. Respiratory particles that diffuse when coughing, sneezing or even talking are the leading cause of virus transmission. Though already an important feature in the food industry, this product has undergone recent transformations because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scroll down to learn more about it.

  • Use as food shields

Imagine you’re in a buffet where all the food is on display without a barrier. No covering, no protection. At any moment, other people’s flying germs and unsavory particles are ready to ‘sit’ on your food and turn your delight into a nightmare.

Thank goodness, protective glass barriers were invented in 1959 by a germaphobe named Johnny Garneau.  A driven entrepreneur and a restaurateur, he was bothered by strangers’ respiratory particles coming into contact with his food. He did not like watching people bend over his buffet and spill side dishes while breathing germs out onto the meals. 

For this reason, he invented food service tables. The glass screens around them were originally intended to protect food from germs and bacteria. Eventually, safety shields came to be a standard contraption in food halls around the world.

food glass shield used for food protection

  • Use as virus protectors

With the spread of the novel coronavirus since the end of 2019, the demand for these barriers rose for use in public places. 

Now they’re being retrofitted to protect people from viruses in schools, supermarkets, offices and in any setting where two or more people are expected to interact.

The CDC has advised businesses to install these protective screens to reduce the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Related:  Covid-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses Beyond Safety Signage

2. What are the Basic Points of Interest About Sneeze Guards?

Nowadays, the health and safety of your customers and staff is of immeasurable importance. The presence of these barriers will aid you in the fight against COVID-19. This section is full of information about sneeze guards so don’t miss a thing. 

  • Are protective screens widely used in public spaces across the US?

Yes, they are! These partitions were initially used in all-you-can-eat buffets to ward off food contamination. Now, they’re being utilized as shields against the spread of droplets and particles that have the potential to transmit infectious disease.  

People in close contact are under higher risks of infecting one another. To prevent the spread of germs, these screens are installed in places where it’s not possible to maintain a social distance.

They’re mainly used as partitions between cashiers and clients in grocery stores, service staff and patrons in restaurants, clerks and customers in banks and people in other public institutions. 

sneeze shield at cash desk used for protecting against infection

Related: Detailed Coverage of 2 Key Sneeze Guard Use Options

  • Are physical barriers required by law?

No, the law does not require screens for interaction within a business setting. The only type of protectors required by law are food shields. Mandated in restaurants, cafes and buffets, food shields requirements are regulated by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).

In all other cases, screen protectors are not enforced but highly advised as a protective measure in all work settings by the CDC. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the use of physical dividers for various circumstances. It’s proposed as an added health measure for industry workers, taxi drivers and food handlers as well as used for reinforcing physical distancing in retail establishments, etc.

Related: Are Sneeze Guards Required? Recommendations for When to Use Them

  • Are there specific requirements for protective shields?

Yes, there are! Whatever type of shield you choose – mounted, free-standing, screwed, etc – its arrangement should ideally allow the advised two-meter physical distance between people.  The protective shields should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to get rid of infectious respiratory particles. 

The dimensions of protective screens should be customizable, leave breathing zones for both parties and be higher than the tallest standing user. The width of the partition should reflect the length of the counter or desk.

In banks or any retail establishments, a little opening is needed to transfer items such as money, paperwork or medical prescriptions. The opening is recommended to be placed off-center when facing the person on the other side in order to avoid direct exposure with the breathing area. 

sneeze guard at reception for protection

Related: 5 Basic Questions Answered About Sneeze Guard Requirements 

  • Do these measures of protection prove their worth?

Yes, they do! They are helpful when it comes to defending people from airborne infections and viruses. Effective contraptions are made of materials such as acrylic, glass or PVC which are all impenetrable barriers against respiratory droplets. Take the steps to protect yourself and others not only from the novel coronavirus but also other contagions spread by particulates and aerosols. 

Related: 7 Proving Points: Do Sneeze Guards Work for Virus Protection? 

  • Where to buy physical barriers?

The most important factors to specify about sneeze guards are customizability, material quality and their usage goal. Due to the need for customization, the product becomes more difficult to obtain when it’s in high demand.

Here at FrontSigns, you’ll find screen protectors that will satisfy all your requirements with adequate supply and a quick turnaround. You can have your custom barriers made in any shape and size using a variety of durable and high quality materials.

image showing what sneeze guards are

Related: 3 Important Things to Consider While Choosing the Best Sneeze Guards

We’re optimistic that you got the answers to “what are sneeze guards” and all other related questions for full insight into this product. These protective shields are useful and effective. They will create a healthier environment and boost your sense of security while interacting with others.  

Want to acquire protective shields? Contact us!