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Space Needle preparing to reopen with new sanitation equipment in place

When the Space Needle in Seattle reopens after being closed during the coronavirus pandemic, visitors will almost immediately notice new safety precautions.

SEATTLE — The Space Needle is preparing to reopen with new high-tech safety measures designed to protect visitors amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A special "Tech Clean Dream Team" spent the last four months coming up with a plan to provide visitors with safer air, cleaner surfaces, and a touchless experience.

The first change visitors will notice is a touchless entry. Visitors will purchase a ticket in advance and scan their ticket to get through the gate. 

Once inside, visitors will stop at a machine that uses UV-C light to kill viruses, such as COVID-19, on clothing, skin, and bags.

Even the elevator, even though it's outside, is treated with ultraviolet light. Masks are required on the elevator and no talking will be allowed during the 41-second ride to the top.

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"We have UV-C - the big stuff that comes through AC units to clean the air; then we have the Far UV-C, the down lights constantly cleaning the air. So it's fresh air that's clean," said Chief Operating Officer Karen Olson.

The Space Needle has invested more than $1 million in state-of-the-art technology including an electrostatic disinfecting device and three portable UV-C units that clean elevators and bathrooms.

"We've built a system that we feel like is about as safe as we can make any environment," said Chief Executive Officer Ron Sevart.

Cash is no longer allowed. Visitors can exchange cash for a debit-style card to be used for purchases. 

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The gift shop is now a self-checkout style with employees watching behind plexiglass.

"We did a renovation less than two years ago and I think people haven't seen the glass floor or this full outer glass area or glass benches. I think locals haven't seen the new Space Needle," Olson said.

An exact date for the reopening has not been set.