《TAIPEI TIMES》 Restaurants switch to take-out; tours canceled
An employee at a McDonald’s restaurant in Taipei yesterday stands next to signs saying the store had suspended dine-in services until Friday next week. Photo: CNA
PANDEMIC MEASURES: Hotels in Taipei shut down their restaurants and banquet halls, while travel agencies are allowing customers to cancel tours for no extra charge
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter
Local travel agencies have canceled tours and restaurants have suspended operations or begun offering takeout services amid a freeze in business as people stay at home to avoid COVID-19 infection.
The hospitality and tourism sectors are bearing the brunt of a spike in local infections after authorities raised the COVID-19 alert to level 3 for Taipei and New Taipei City over the weekend and advised against gatherings or going out.
Lion Travel Service Co （雄獅旅遊）, South East Travel Service Co （東南旅遊） and ezTravel Co （易遊網） have canceled group tours within Taiwan and to offshore destinations until June 8, without extra charges to travelers, to help combat the virus outbreak.
Travel agencies, which have not yet emerged from the negative effects of the pandemic due to border controls, are now facing financial stress as domestic tourism has also come to a halt.
Lion Travel said safety is of top concern and it would cooperate with pandemic control measures.
Similarly, South East Travel said it would protect the interests of travelers and make adjustments in line with the government’s virus control measures.
Online travel agency ezTravel said it would not charge cancelation fees from customers who cancel train, cruise, airplane or bus trips.
Luxury hotel Le Meridien Taipei （台北寒舍艾美酒店） and the Ambassador Hotel （國賓飯店） have temporarily shut down their buffet restaurants and banquet facilities, while the Grand Hyatt Taipei （台北君悅大飯店） has closed its Japanese, Italian and Cantonese restaurants until June 8 and restarted drive-through service for takeout orders.
The nation’s largest restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp （王品） has closed its hot pot brand 12 Sabu （石二鍋）, Tasty （西堤） and Japanese restaurant Ikki （藝奇） in Taipei’s hardest-hit district, Wanhua （萬華）, and New Taipei City’s Lujhou District （蘆洲）.
In addition, 100 outlets under different brands in the two cities have stopped offering dine-in services and are only offering takeout services until Friday next week.
Wowprime also owns Wang Steak （王品牛排）, barbecue restaurant chain Yakiyan （原燒）, teppanyaki brand Chamonix （夏慕尼） and Tokiya （陶板屋）.
Properties outside Taipei and New Taipei City would reduce capacity, take diners’ temperatures and require identification to help with contact tracing if needed, it said.
McDonald’s Taiwan also halted dine-in services at all of its restaurants in major cities in northern Taiwan until Friday next week, saying it would offer take-out and delivery services during the period.
Similarly, Feast & Food Gourmet Group （饗賓餐旅集團） said all of the restaurants operating under its seven brands in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan would stop dine-in services, and only offer take-out and delivery services during the period.
The brands are Eatogether （饗食天堂）, Kaifun （開飯）, Guo Ran Hui （果然匯）, Siam More （饗泰多）, Inparadise （饗饗）, Sunrise （旭集） and Jin-zhu （真珠）.
The group said it offers a 10 percent discount for take-out and delivery with a minimum order of NT$1,000.
Additional reporting by CNA