Finnish grocery stores using new handles for forearm to avoid COVID-19
A man demonstrates how to use the Fortum lever. (Fortum)
TORONTO -- Avoiding touching surfaces that strangers have touched is one of the ways to lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19, but some surfaces, such as door handles, are harder to avoid than others.
Shoppers in Finland, however, may soon be able to avoid the dreaded freezer handle in grocery stores with a new innovation -- a lever that allows you to open freezer doors with your forearm instead of your hand.
According to the Helsinki Times, a Finnish energy company called Fortum has released a “Fortum lever” for freezer doors.
The lever, which juts out from the existing handle on the freezers, allows patrons to minimize contact by placing their forearm on the lever and pulling the door open with that instead of grasping the usual handle.
It will be tested in select Alepa supermarket stores in Helsinki, and could be rolled out more widely across the country over the next few weeks.
Whether this type of innovation could catch on elsewhere is unknown yet. Many places have regulations in place regarding door handles in order to make sure that they are accessible to those with mobility challenges.
Guidelines for door handles for the City of Toronto, for example, specify that “all door opening hardware on entrance vestibule, and room doors should be easy to grasp and use.”