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Coronavirus: Belfast restaurant closes as a 'precautionary measure'


 A total of 12 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for the virus (PA)

A total of 12 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for the virus (PA)

A total of 12 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for the virus (PA)

A Belfast restaurant has temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ternary Chinese Restaurant on Donegall Pass said it made the decision as a “precautionary measure” in line with prevention efforts taking place “across Belfast”.

It also said some people have been entering the premises and shouting "coronavirus", which has "caused fear among patrons" and discriminates against Chinese people.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said the move was “unusual” and more closures were not expected.

It comes following the confirmation of eight new cases of the virus in Northern Ireland over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 12 since testing began.

Coronavirus originated in a seafood and poultry market in the Wuhan region of China in late December last year and has now spread to more than 70 countries around the globe, killing more than 3,000 people.

Taking to social media, the Ternary restaurant announced its temporary closure to customers on Sunday.

“As a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts taking place across Belfast, putting the health and safety of our guests and staff of Ternary, we are temporarily closing until further notice,” a spokesperson said.

“Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

In a further statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a Ternary restaurant spokesperson said it has seen a drop in customers, the majority of whom are Chinese, in the past month.

"Due to the fear of coronavirus, and there have been cases of individuals entering the restaurant randomly shouting coronavirus and discriminating against Chinese people," a spokesperson said.

"This has caused a reduction in customers for the past month. Thus, the management of Ternary has decided to close the restaurant at this point in time as a precautionary measure."

While there has not been mass restaurant closures in Northern Ireland due to the virus, the hospitality industry has been affected.

Last week, the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance (NITA) warned the tourism industry is set to take a £1million hit in the first quarter of this year due to the outbreak.

NITA estimates that around 1% of all hotel bookings have been cancelled, mainly reservations from the Asian market, which makes up around 2% of the NI tourism industry.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Colin Neill said that, while the hospitality industry was taking the outbreak “very seriously”, the case of the Ternary restaurant was “unusual”.

“Already in Northern Ireland we have very high hygiene standards and we are following government guidance on coronavirus, which is constantly being updated,” he said.

“For the time being we have also issued our own guidance for hospitality businesses, such as sanitising door handles and reminders regarding the cleaning of hands. So we have upped our game in that regard, however we’re not advising businesses to close.”

Mr Neill said the industry was taking all necessary measures to stop the spread of the virus.

“This would be an unusual case, we certainly haven’t heard of other restaurants or pubs taking these kind of measures,” he added.


Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill

Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill

Hospitality Ulster’s Colin Neill

“On the whole, however, it really is a case of ‘keep calm and wash your hands’. It’s business as usual for Northern Ireland’s hospitality industry.”

Across the island of Ireland, there has a been a total of 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

One of the cases in Northern Ireland involves a Co Armagh footballer who tested positive after playing a game for Portadown side Hanover FC on Saturday afternoon.

The club stressed it was not aware the player was at risk prior to the match. The player has now been told to self-isolate and health officials are working to trace anyone who he was in contact with.

The Ternary restaurant has been approached for comment.

Belfast Telegraph