CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A new Charlotte restaurant owner plans to implement temperature screenings once his business opens.

Sean Kim planned to open MOA Korean BBQ & Bar in Uptown Charlotte in March. He says construction has been delayed for two months because of the pandemic. 



Kim plans to carefully look at Gov. Roy Cooper’s guidance on reopening dining rooms and additional data of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina before deciding whether to open his new business. However, he anticipates to open as early as next month. Currently, he’s preparing to ensure employees and staff are safe.

“I would be very scared to see anybody coming into our facility and spreading the coronavirus,” Kim said.

Therefore, he bought thermal imaging cameras for MOA Korean BBQ & Bar and 929 Kitchen & Bar, his other business in Columbia, South Carolina. His South Carolina restaurant remains open only for takeout and delivery. Therefore, the camera there is only being used for employees at the moment.  

Kim invested $15,000 to buy the technology for both restaurants. He says in South Korea thermal imaging cameras are widely used for COVID-19 screenings.

At MOA Korean BBQ & Bar, a sign at the entrance will alert customers about the temperature screenings. The thermal imaging camera located at the hostess stand will read the temperature of employees and customers.

"If you have multiple people coming in together, it catches up to eight people's temperatures," Kim said.

If their temperature is normal, they will be allowed to go on the premises. However, if someone’s temperature is high, meaning over 100.4 degrees, the machine will sound an alarm then staff will check it again with another device.

If it continues to be elevated, the customer will be asked to return later and likely be given a discount. Kim says he knows he may lose some customers because of the use of thermal imaging cameras.

“I totally understand. That’s one of the reasons letting them know we are having this for certain time,” Kim said.

He says overall the response has been positive.

“It doesn’t mean 100 percent protection, but it means feeling safe,” Kim said.

Before COVID-19 thermal imaging devices have been widely used by firefighters. As part of its COVID-19 response, three U.S. Army programs are using thermal imaging to screen personnel entering military facilities.