Restaurants across Taiwan are reorganizing their spaces to comply with the social distancing guidelines issued Tuesday by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) as part of the country's efforts to contain the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). In keeping with the CECC's advice that people should keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other indoors and at least one meter outdoors, two major restaurant chains said they will now leave an extra space between customers at their tables.
With a space the width of an empty seat between customers, restaurant tables will each seat half as many people as before, Wowprime Corp. (王品集團) and Feastogether Corp. said. Furthermore, Wowprime Corp. stated that it would ask its 280 restaurants to rearrange the space between tables to comply with the CECC's social distancing regulations.
The CECC announced the guidelines Tuesday and expanded on them Wednesday, saying that if businesses cannot implement the social distancing rules, they should close temporarily. Following the announcement, several other restaurants said they were preparing to make adjustments. They include TTFB Company Limited (瓦城泰統集團), famous in Taiwan for its Thai cuisine; Brasserie, a buffet restaurant at the Regent Hotel (台北晶華酒店); and Hi-Lai Foods Inc. (漢來美食).
A few others, however, expressed worry that the new social distancing regulations will cripple their business, which is already sluggish due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tofu Restaurant Group (豆腐餐廳集團) said that while it would do its best to comply with the CECC's guidelines, it feared that its revenue would drop by half in these difficult times.
Nonetheless, Tofu Restaurant Group said it would not resort to furloughs or salary cuts for its employees, but rather would try to boost its online orders and take-out sales.
As restaurants and beverage shops are expected to be among the hardest hit businesses in the country due to the coronavirus, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has allocated NT$265 million (US$8.75 million) in bailout funds for that sector, in the ministry's NT$20.491 billion economic relief package.
The funds will be used primarily to help restaurants shift to e-commerce and delivery platforms, the MOEA said, adding that eligible restaurants and retailers can apply from April 10 to go digital.