San Francisco nightclub owner’s coronavirus shield business is thriving

A San Francisco nightclub owner and a friend have turned a hobby into a business.

Five months ago, the two were trying to cope with the coronavirus shutdown. 

They started making plastic shields for businesses and giving them away for free.

Now they say their project has evolved.

Micah Byrnes co-owns Viral Guard Systems in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, where he makes acrylic shields with a laser cuter-a product designed to protect against the airborne spread of the coronavirus.

"It's nice to have a job, to be able to keep some of my normal employees and do something to stop COVID in the Bay Area," says Byrnes.

It didn't start as a business.

Byrnes and Meyers came up with the idea to make these shields and give them away for free to businesses to keep essential workers and the public safe.

"Being at home hoping this thing would pass which we thought would be over quick, we'd be bored, we wouldn't be feeling great, we had to do something," says Meyers. 

The two friends say they've gifted hundreds of what they call viral shields.

Soon, word spread. Companies big and small wanted to buy them.

Now five months later, doing something to help others has turned into a profitable business they named Viral Guard systems.

"We're custom making everything here in San Francisco.  We have a lot more flexibility," says Byrnes.

  Clients include public agencies, hotels, and retailers.

Their shields are being used in places such as Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. 

Meyers says the shields are his way of contributing during what has been a difficult year.

"I can't be out fighting the fires. But through my skills and ability, I can help

give back to the community and keep people safe and saving lives. I think that's important," says Meyers.

For Byrnes, he never thought he'd be in the business of manufacturing a product.

"I promised myself a long time ago I would never have a boring job, but I kind of created myself one," says Byrnes with a laugh.

When the time comes, he plans to be laser-focused on getting back to what he did for a living pre-pandemic

"Music and entertainment and things I really enjoy. But right now, you got to take what you can get and it's nice that we're able to do this," says Byrnes.  

The owners say they tend to get very busy whenever county and state officials make announcements about re-opening dates.

They say they have no idea how long this business will last.

They're just taking it one day at a time.

Amber Lee is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Amber at and follow her on Twitter @AmberKTVU