SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Korea Bizwire) — As the so-called ‘Level 2.5’ social distancing rules have taken effect in South Korea, customers are allowed to consume food and drinks inside bakeries, but not at franchise coffee chains in the Greater Seoul area.
The government said that its decision not to include bakeries on the list of businesses that are banned from providing dine-in services to customers was based on consideration of the level of COVID-19 risk and the impact on ordinary peoples’ finances.
The Level 2.5 social distancing rules are scheduled to be enforced from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 in the Greater Seoul area. During this period, the operations of franchise coffee chains is greatly restricted.
For customers of franchise coffee chains, consuming food and drinks inside is banned and only takeout or delivery services are available.
Unlike franchise coffee chains, however, bakeries are allowed to offer dine-in services to customers, although their operations should be halted from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. while the Level 2.5 guidelines are in effect.
This differential approach has created a so-called ‘balloon effect’ with customers of franchise coffee chains moving to bakeries where they can consume food and drinks in a comfortable indoor space.
“Franchise coffee chains tend to operate for long hours in a highly congested condition. This is why we restricted the operations of franchise coffee chains and required them to provide only takeout or delivery services,” said Son Young-rae, a spokesperson for the country’s health ministry.
“Bakeries, however, come in various sizes, including lots of small self-employed businesses. If we ban them from providing dine-in services, it could cause huge damages to the finances of many ordinary citizens.”
J. S. Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)