SLIDING screens inspired by Japanese partition designs will be used in a York restaurant when it reopens.

Wagamama has confirmed it is trialling the screens at a small number of its sites, taking advantage of the restaurant's long bench design, to keep diners safe while maintaining an enjoyable experience. 

The screens sit on tiny rollers and can be moved up and down the full length of the benches, separating parties from one another. 

wagamama will reopen four trial sites to test the safety and efficiency of the designs to meet strict social distancing and increased hygiene measures.

The first restaurant to open will be at the Royal Festival Hall in central London on Saturday, July 4, followed by three others at the Trafford Centre, Stevenage and Swindon from Monday July 6.York Press:

Other measures include social distancing queueing, disposable menus on placemats, and the restaurant will also now be cashless, providing a simple pay on phone system at the end of the meal which minimises staff contact and adheres to the government’s request of taking the name and phone number of at least one person in the group.

If successful, wagamama plans to have 18 restaurants open by the end of July and then a staged plan will hopefully see all restaurants open by early September.

They have not confirmed when York's restaurants will reopen.

Design director Mark Standing said: “Sliding screens (shoji) are at the very heart of the Japanese architectural aesthetic. They have been used for hundreds of years to divide spaces in buildings and rooms. I took my inspiration for the design of screen dividers for our long sharing tables and benches from this tradition”.

CEO Emma Woods said: “The main question we have been working on as a team is how can our guests feel safe but still have a communal wagamama experience, sitting on our benches. The team have applied our philosophy of kaizen - good change - to this challenge and I am delighted we have found a design solution which provides social distancing for our guests in a way which is true to the design ethos of the brand.

“We are looking forward to getting our guests back in and obtaining their feedback in the first 18 sites. If these tests go well, we will reopen the remainder of our restaurants throughout August and September.”York Press: