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S. Korea to revamp support measures for restaurants amid coronavirus fears

All News 10:50 February 17, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Monday it will revamp its support measures for restaurant businesses that have been facing falling revenues as fewer people opt to dine out amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under the plan, South Korea will offer a 0.5 percentage point cut in its rate for special loans provided to local restaurants, which is currently set at 3 percent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The special fund is designed to provide financial support for small-sized dining establishments and encourage them to purchase locally produced agricultural goods.

South Korea said it will also gradually expand the size of the fund, currently set at 10 billion won (US$8.45 million) for 2020.

S. Korea to revamp support measures for restaurants amid coronavirus fears - 1

The decision came on concerns that a rising number of South Koreans are refraining from eating out amid worries over the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases here reached 30 as of Monday, although no deaths have been reported. The novel virus has claimed around 1,700 lives in China.

Subsidies of 10 million won will be provided to group buying organizations of restaurants as well to help them cut costs by purchasing ingredients in bulk, it added.

Tax authorities will delay the collection of taxes and provide other financial incentives to ease restaurants' burdens, it added.

South Korea will also closely monitor the country's imports of Chinese foodstuffs, as local dining establishments are poised to face a shortage in their supply of ingredients if the situation extends to a longer period.

"We also urge people to eat out as usual and refrain from being excessively concerned about the virus," Agriculture Minister Kim Hyeon-soo said.

colin@yna.co.kr
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