Sneeze Guard

Sneeze guard (Plexiglass Partitions)
Object date 1930s
Place of Origin Germany/United States
Designer Unknown
Materials Plexiglass

by student Haibo Qu

Since February 2020, the World Health Organization (2020) has advised using “physical barriers to reduce exposure” to COVID-19. This recommendation has seeped into everyday public life. In the uncertainty of social environments, sneeze guards offer a responsible, safe, trustworthy and temporary space and image, playing the role of both “presenting” and “protecting”. Although the “barrier” is focused on the virus, the panel itself speaks a common language. It is a transparent sign that subconsciously reminds people of the existence of “otherness” in places where you may wish for social intimacy. This awareness creates an exclusive moment. It highlights a virtual border around private space in social conversation and forms a new pattern of social experience in the “new-normal”.

Associated Press,

Eykelbosh, A. (2020, May 13). Physical Barriers for COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Commercial Settings. Retrieved December 10, 2020, from

Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space. Oregon, New Jersey and Oxford: Blackwell.

Tait, A. (2020). Plexiglass Is Having a Moment. Retrieved 10 December 2020, from

World Health Organization (27 February 2020). “Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. World Health Organization.


YBStauber (2020). Library Sneeze Guard [photograph]. Retrieved from CC-BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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