Opinion | Denying seating to Taiwan foreigners is bordering on discrimination

(Photo/Shutterstock)

As coronavirus spreads worldwide, many people have shared how discrimination also increased, including in Taiwan. I want to share my experience with a Taipei BBQ restaurant.

On April 18, I had found their location using Google Maps. I called to make a reservation.

The man on the phone asked me if I was a foreigner and when I answered yes, he was hesitant to give me a table. He said they weren’t supposed to take foreigners because of COVID-19.

That didn’t make any sense to me — How are foreigners and locals any different when it comes to the virus? If we wear masks and wash our hands and get our temperature taken when entering, all people should be treated the same. I was upset but just said, oh. I understand you. Thanks. 

And then I hung up to have a moment to process my thoughts and emotions about it.

After some thought, I got in touch with a friend who was supposed to join me for dinner and he was shocked. He called and also tried to make a reservation. They told him the same thing. ‘We’re not really supposed to accept foreigners right now.’

I decided that not doing anything wasn’t enough for me so I shared my experience on Facebook. People from all over commented and shared my experience and also added theirs.

Robert Hickey was denied reservation at a Taipei BBQ restaurant because he was a foreigner (Photo from FaceBook)

Apparently it’s something more restaurants are choosing to do recently. Several foreigners called and received mixed messages of ‘No foreigners’ to ‘Foreigners can come, but they have to show their passport.

Our passports are official documents that are property of our respective governments and we sign them promising only to give our passports to qualified professionals such as police or immigration officials. We are not required to hand them over to anyone that demands it. That’s not the way it works.

Several foreigners have posted negative reviews on their Google Maps page and wrote in their Facebook wall. 

Foreign groups from all over have been discussing this incident as well as others.

The owner of the BBQ place I mentioned has since posted a response which I have taken a screenshot of and attached for your viewing.

A screenshot of the BBQ restaurant’s response (Screenshot provided by Robert Hickey)

They claim it’s in response to the government, but Taiwan’s government has not told restaurants to do this. 

As far as I know, it’s illegal to discriminate like this.

Two weeks ago, the leader of the WHO claimed the Taiwanese were racists, which I know isn’t true. The president of Taiwan responded that the government and people here are not racist and do not discriminate.

So the policy at the restaurant doesn’t comply with the government at all, actually. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

I love Taiwan a lot. It’s been my home for 15 years and I know this restaurant isn’t reflective of the good Taiwanese people which is why I wanted to deal with this. 

 

 


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