Space Needle spends $1M on UV gates and other tech in ambitious reopening plan


The bar for reopening businesses and attractions to the public during the coronavirus pandemic has been set — and it’s 600 feet high.

Seattle’s iconic Space Needle has invested $1 million in state-of-the-art technologies and safety measures that officials say will allow visitors to soon return to the structure, which has been closed since March 13 because of the health crisis. The initiative, called “Elevating Clean,  goes far beyond ordinary face masks and hand sanitizer.

The Space Needle has added an array of ultraviolet light technology intended to rid the air and surfaces of harmful viruses. Guests will pass through Far-UV-C “sanitizing” body scanners at the front gates that look like airport metal detectors. Inside, they’ll breathe air that’s been zapped by even stronger UV-C light inside the building’s mechanical systems.

CEO Ron Sevart and COO Karen Olson weren’t ready to give an exact date for reopening, but they realize the Needle — with its giant “Mask Up” flag flapping at the top — plays an integral role in the community.

“We’re the best place to show off the city. We want to do that safely,” Olson said. “It’s been four months. People want something to do, they want something to do safely, they want to get that breath of fresh air. We’ve taken the time, we’ve done the investment. We believe we are as safe as we can be.”

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