Hostess club in Tainan reopens to customers amid COVID-19

File photo courtesy of the police for illustrative purpose

TAINAN (CNA) — A hostess dance club in Tainan reopened Saturday, becoming the first such club in Taiwan’s six major metropolitan areas to restart business after being shut down last month because of fears it could easily spread COVID-19.

Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said the city government issued a business resumption permit to the Wan Hsiang Dance Club (萬象舞廳) Friday after the club passed a government inspection.

The 35-year-old Wan Hsiang Dance Club is so far the only legitimate hostess club among the five in the southern Taiwan city that has applied to reopen, according to Huang.

City government officials said owners of the club pledged to implement the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC’s) epidemic prevention guidelines against COVID-19 as it reopens its doors to customers.

These guidelines include asking customers to follow social distancing measures, having them wear a face mask, taking their temperatures, and getting them to use hand sanitizer before entering the clubs.

The club will also be required to control the flow of people by keeping a register of those entering, the city government said.

The club’s owners pledged to register the name and ID card numbers of each customer, and transparent plastic partitions have also been installed in each private booth to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Customers will also be forbidden to dance with a partner despite the resumption of operations, but will be allowed to dance alone, the club said, without elaborating.

Huang said city officials will conduct inspections of the club to make sure it is following related guidelines, and the club will be closed for a week should violations be reported.

Local media quoted the 75-year-old owner of the club surnamed Tseng (曾) as saying that the month-long suspension is the longest period of time the establishment has been closed during its 35-year history.

The shutdown has seriously affected the livelihoods of the club’s 100 employees and 200 hostesses, and they are all eager to see business resume, Tseng was cited as saying.

The CECC on April 9 ordered hostess clubs across the country shut down, saying they posed a high risk of spreading COVID-19 after a hostess at a club in Taipei was confirmed to have the disease.

As the number of cases dwindled to practically zero in the first week of May, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, announced on May 8 that local governments could decide whether to reopen their cities’ hostess clubs under certain conditions.

Tainan is the only one of Taiwan’s six special municipalities — which also include Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung — to allow hostess bars to reopen so far.