Friends with tech and Burning Man background make 'virus guards' for small SF businesses

People are creative and resourceful during these challenging times as they cope with the extended shelter-in-place order. For some, it's a new project to meet the challenges of this new world.  

Two friends have found a way to use this time to help others by creating something that they hope will prevent the spread of the corona-virus.

They are working out of a warehouse in the South of Market neighborhood.

They're making plastic shields as a way to protect people who are working with the public during this crisis.

A laser cuts into a piece of acrylic, turning it into  a shield of sorts to protect against the airborne spread of coronavirus.

"This creates a barrier to help stop the spread of the virus through people going to visit essential businesses," said Micah Byrnes, the co-owner of a restaurant and nightclub who partner with friend Devon Meyers in this project they call "Viral Guards for Essential Workers."

The viral guards are being made in this warehouse that stores beverages for catering events and festivals, a thriving business before the pandemic, now re-purposed.

Meyers, a laid off tech worker, is using skills he learned building art work for Burning Man to create these guards.

"Now, with the current situation, I'm kinda glad I can pivot to something that makes an impact," said Meyers.

The two friends are giving the viral guards away for free to businesses including restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores. 

With the shelter-in-place order extended, the friends say helping others also helps them.

"It feels a lot better than sitting around watching Netflix all day for sure," said Byrnes.

Using their own money and donations through word of mouth and a Gofundme, the two have already made dozens of the acrylic guards  and given away a handful so far this week including Chico's Pizza on 6th Street.

"I was hella happy, yeah," said Khaleel Almalak, manager with Chico's Pizza. Grateful and concerned about the spread of coronavirus, "I can't work from my house. I have to come here to survive with the business."

"Anything we can do to make people order delivery food and going shopping and going to the bank a little bit safer, I think we'll help those businesses grow," said Byrnes.

The two friends say they can make up to 30 "viral guards" a day. Most have gone to help businesses in SoMa.

They say their goal is to help as many small businesses as possible in San Francisco and eventually expand to other cities.