The Korea Herald


Feeling shut out, the unvaccinated stick together online

Lists of businesses not discriminating against those without a vaccine pass grow longer as support flows in

By Park Han-na

Published : Dec. 28, 2021 - 16:05

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On Sunday, launched with a list of a few hundreds of restaurants in the country that do not “discriminate against” unvaccinated people.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the digital map showing the location of the businesses garnered some 70,000 views, with entry suggestions flowing in from users, according to its developer Goda.

“It seems that our society is going through a somewhat chaotic period due to the recently strengthened vaccination pass policy. I have developed a guide for people who have not been vaccinated, including myself,” Goda said, introducing themselves as a student studying computer science.

The map, now with around 1,100 eateries marked, divides the businesses into three types – those that treat unvaccinated customers kindly, those that deny entry to them and others whose policies users would like to learn about. The site itself garnered 15,000 users its second day of operation.

“For sure, I will not go to restaurants that don’t let us dine-in even if we told them that we will eat alone. I will only visit kind restaurants even after the pandemic ends,” an anonymous user wrote on the site’s bulletin board.

Gazaahome’s map is among a growing number of grassroots initiatives launched, supported and shared by those feeling shut out due to their refusal to get vaccinated.

Since Dec. 17, all adults aged 18 or older need to present a vaccination certificate proving a complete inoculation status to eat inside restaurants and cafes as part of the government-enforced vaccine pass system designed to contain growing infections and the Omicron variant.

Under the rule, people who chose not to be vaccinated are not allowed to use restaurants and cafes unless they are alone without a companion or present a proof of a negative PCR test result.

Due to the hassle of checking each guest’s vaccination status, some businesses have adopted an outright ban on the unvaccinated. For business owners, a failure to comply with the vaccine pass system could result in fines of up to 3 million won ($2,528) and a business suspension.

In response, unvaccinated people have gone online to share information, at sites like gazaahome’s map of businesses that are kind to them.

While this could be seen as a way for the unvaccinated to get along with life under the vaccine pass system, some raised concerns that shop owners could face a blow from the ‘blacklist.’

An owner of a restaurant labelled on the site as a shop that rejects unvaccinated people, claimed that the restaurant sent back unvaccinated people without a test result but allowed customers who came alone to eat in without asking whether they have been vaccinated or not.

On social media, some users shared their unpleasant experiences at restaurants using hashtags like #discriminationagainstunvaccinated.

“Our fundamental rights were violated, they discriminated against us and they treated unvaccinated people with hatred,” an Instagram user said.

On Dec. 20, Son Young-rae, a high-ranking official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency told a press briefing that it is “impossible” to impose a fine against shops that ban unvaccinated customers under the Infectious Disease Prevention Act.

“The purpose of the quarantine pass system is to protect unvaccinated people from getting infected, rather than potential virus transmission from them to other people.”