Social Distancing Faces Harsh Criticism over ‘Inequality’ | Be Korea-savvy

Social Distancing Faces Harsh Criticism over ‘Inequality’

This photo, taken Nov. 24, 2020, shows chairs put away inside a coffee shop franchise in Mapo Ward, Seoul. (Yonhap)

This photo, taken Nov. 24, 2020, shows chairs put away inside a coffee shop franchise in Mapo Ward, Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Korea Bizwire)After the South Korean government started enforcing Level 2 social distancing guidelines for the greater Seoul area from Tuesday, the owners of cafés in these areas are voicing strong complaints about unfair restrictions on business operations.

Under the Level 2 social distancing guidelines, cafes are banned from providing indoor dining service, while food restaurants are permitted to offer such services until 9 p.m.

“I can’t understand why some types of businesses where people stay longer than in cafes to enjoy food and liquor without wearing masks are less restricted than coffee shops,” said Kim Hee-Ki, a 43-year-old man who runs a café in the popular Sinchon neighborhood of Seoul.

Restaurants, for example, are permitted to serve ‘dine-in’ customers until 9 p.m, and can only offer takeout services after that.

“It’s nonsense to ban ‘dine-in’ service at cafés despite their efforts to increase distance and install partitions between tables, while permitting food restaurants to operate normally.” said a 52-year-old man who manages a franchise café in Seoul’s Seocho District.

Café owners are not the only group who is voicing strong complaints. The owners of bakeries, where ‘dine-in’ services are also banned, are strongly reacting against the inequality.

On Wednesday morning, a private bakery in Seocho District got rid of all of its seats.

As sales of sandwiches – particularly popular among dine-in customers – declined sharply from a day earlier, the bakery was forced to cut back on its bread production.

“I admit that we need to strengthen disinfection and quarantine efforts,” said a 52-year-old bakery owner.

“However, the level 2 social distancing guidelines that allow sandwich shops and convenience stores to provide ‘dine-in’ service during the daytime, while banning bakeries from providing such services have some problem in light of equality and effectiveness.”

Ashley Song (

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