Downtown Eateries Stay Empty as Workers Telecommute

  • By Park Jung-hoon

    March 26, 2022 08:17

    The government now allows up to eight people to gather at a time, but restaurants and bars downtown remain empty as the armies of salarymen their business depends on stay away.

    Many companies have banned their staff from eating or drinking together as coronavirus infections continue to soar, and many workers are still working from home.

    Those who do come to the office are often reluctant to socialize for fear of picking up an infection and spreading it to their family. One worker at a financial company in downtown Seoul said only three out of 15 team members are working in the office while the others telecommute.

    Another worker said, "I joined the company last December when it prohibited workers from gathering after work, and I've never eaten with them since." Another banker in Yeouido said, "I live with my mother who is almost 90, so I stopped going to corporate gatherings altogether for fear of getting infected."

    A pub in downtown Seoul is deserted while an eatery alley in Gangnam bustles with young people on Tuesday.

    The picture is quite different in trendy Apgujeong and Gangnam districts, where the young and rich gather. Younger people who live alone do not have to worry about infecting their children or parents and welcome the easing of restrictions.

    One pub in Gangnam was packed on Tuesday night, with more people queueing outside. Most of them seemed to be in their 20s and 30s.

    Experts are unsure whether the easing of lockdown will spur consumption across the board. Kim Sang-bong at Hansung University said, "The recent surge in infections has prompted most people to head home right after work. Lifting regulations alone will not suddenly send people swarming to restaurants or bars."

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