To fight coronavirus, L.A. restaurant chain takes temperatures before letting patrons dine

Sichuan Impression
Customer Grace Magallon, 63, right, of East Los Angeles after having her temperature taken by Sophia Huang, a supervisor at Sichuan Impression restaurant in Alhambra.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak, one restaurant is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Check, please.”

Since late January, Sichuan Impression has used infrared thermometers — which can take a person’s temperature without touching them — to screen patrons at its three locations in Alhambra, Tustin and West Los Angeles.

If someone is running a fever or exhibits other abnormal symptoms, employees help them contact medical services.


Those who refuse to have their temperature checked are declined service.

“We at Sichuan Impression respect and enjoy having our guests who come from all corners of the world,” the restaurant wrote in a Jan. 26 Instagram post. “Offering you a healthy and safe dining environment is also upheld as our top priority.”

The restaurant also is encouraging to-go orders, and has offered discounts for those.

“It has been six years since Sichuan Impression opened, and to treat everyone who comes to dine equally has always been our basic principle,” the Instagram post said. “We are grateful for your cooperation during this extraordinary period.”

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March 21, 2020

Reaction to the restaurant’s announcement was largely positive on Instagram, with a handful of commenters responding with thumbs-up and heart emojis.


“I’m in absolute awe,” one user wrote. “Honestly, I wish many employers were this forward-thinking and focused on preventing large-scale breakouts.”

Not everyone was a fan, however.

“Guess I ain’t going to [your] restaurant anymore,” one user wrote.

When asked Monday about businesses doing this type of screening, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters, “We appreciate that our businesses are being creative; we understand that there is a lot of concern, and we welcome the fact that folks are looking at ways to minimize exposures within their businesses.”

But, she cautioned, “those infrared thermometers are not 100%.”

“The most important thing that we can do is stay home when we’re sick,” she said. “And I mean, no matter how mild your illness is, you need to stay home until you’re fully well.”

The coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China, around the beginning of the year. There are now reported cases in more than 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

So far, the disease has infected more than 500 people in the United States — including 114 in California, health officials say.

Stateside, 22 people have died from the virus, most of them in Washington state. There’s been one confirmed death in California: a man in Placer County.

Because of its origins, the disease has been blamed for sparking bias, misinformation and racism against Asian Americans. Businesses and usually bustling gathering spots in Chinatowns and other Asian communities also have felt the sting as customers and tourists are staying away amid the scare.