Lauded as a simple but efficient shield against coronavirus infections, transparent screens have sprung up at grocery store tills and pharmacies throughout Germany. For plexiglass producer Claus Mueller, enterprise has by no means been higher—however, nobody is celebrating.
The Plexiglas Riesner plant in Wiesbaden is buzzing with activity as owner Mueller and his staff race to get out the next slate of orders, slicing and bending acrylic sheets to size whereas the phone rings off the hook.
It is the busiest time in the small firm’s 114-year history, with requests coming in faster than the supply chain can deal with.
Demand for “sneeze guards” has surged as corporations scramble to guard employees from a deadly virus that’s transmitted via droplets from an infected individual’s mouth or nose, putting at risk these whose jobs do not allow them to maintain the recommended two-meter (six-foot) distance.
In the span of mere weeks, German shoppers have become used to the sight of plexiglass barriers separating them from cashiers in grocery shops, among the few retailers that remain open.
Elsewhere too, supermarket networks are choosing the relatively affordable and easy to install screens, from Carrefour in France to Walmart in the USA.
Mueller says his sales have more than doubled in March compared with the pre-virus era, boosted by business from hospitals, pharmacies, lodges, banks, and docs’ offices.
The corporate is also engaged in a large order destined for local Aldi supermarkets, with the jovial Mueller repeatedly preparing to pitch in with the three staff on the workshop floor.