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(LEAD) Seoul city rolls out antivirus rules for internet cafes

All News 17:26 September 16, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in last three paras, photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul city government on Wednesday unveiled detailed guidelines for internet cafes that recently resumed business after the government eased tightened social distancing in greater Seoul.

Under the guidelines, internet cafes are allowed to sell water and non-alcoholic beverages. Employees are also allowed to have food inside the internet cafes.

At the same time, customers are not allowed to bring in food or drinks from outside, and both customers and employees are not allowed to smoke inside the businesses.

As part of efforts to curb possible infections, all customers should sit apart from one another and sign into an electronic entry log that is authenticated by the government. Underaged customers cannot visit internet cafes even with guardians.

An internet cafe, called a "PC bang" in Korean, reopens in Seoul on Sept. 14, 2020, the first day after the easing of toughened social distancing guidelines, as new COVID-19 cases noticeably declined. Such establishments were shut down over the past two weeks amid a resurgence of the virus. (Yonhap)

The guidelines come just a few days after internet cafes were allowed to resume business following a two-week hiatus. The government, however, said it would be restricting underaged customers and sales of food inside the internet cafes.

The city government said it plans to run on-site inspections of some 2,750 internet cafes across the capital.

Businesses that do not follow the guidelines will be temporarily suspended. The city also plans to file a complaint against such businesses for disrupting antivirus efforts and possibly seek financial compensation if infections occur.

A notice on wearing masks and keeping distance is displayed at an internet cafe in the central Seoul ward of Dongjak on Sept. 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

Business owners, who welcomed the government's eased social distancing guidelines, have voiced frustration over restrictions on underage customers and banning food consumption.

"It's practically telling us to open doors but not do business if (the government) does not permit accepting student customers and selling food, which are our main profit sources," a group representing internet cafe owners said in a press conference held in front of the National Assembly on Monday.

They claimed that the risk of contracting the virus at internet cafes is quite low, saying that customers usually stay for a short time and cubicles are installed at most seats.

A committee of internet cafe owners holds a press conference in front of the National Assembly in western Seoul on Sept. 14, 2020, demanding eased business restrictions for the industry. (Yonhap)


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