A British man has told how he and his Asian wife were refused a meal in a restaurant and asked to leave over coronavirus fears because they had just landed in the UK from China.
Matthew Moore, 37, says he and wife Huang Quan Xiang, 32, were “rudely” asked to leave by a restaurateur who found out they hadn’t self-isolated for 14 days after flying in from China.
But the couple say they already self-isolated in China for a month and had undergone all the necessary checks as they arrived in the UK.
It comes as supermarkets across the UK were expected to start rationing food after panic buying left shelves empty following the coronavirus outbreak.
The incident happened when the couple went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Leyland, Lancashire, less than 48 hours after arriving in the UK from the city of Chengdu, where they live and work.
“The owner was really impolite in the way he walked over and just told us to go away,” said Moore. “He just said out loud, ‘I hope you’ve had two weeks of quarantine, or you’re not allowed to sit in here’.
“There were other customers there and he spoke really loudly so that everyone could hear, it was really embarrassing.”
The 37-year-old said he explained to the owner of the restaurant in Leyland, Lancashire, named ‘Jacky’, that he and his wife had already self-isolated in China for a month before flying over and underwent “numerous” checks at the airport in China as well as on arrival at Heathrow.
“We told him about the checks and that we had already been quarantined for a month but he still wanted us to leave,” he added.
But Jacky claims he called 111 after the couple arrived in his restaurant and was advised what to do.
“I told them they had to self-quarantine for 14 days coming from China. That’s what 111 told me and that’s how I understand it,” he said.
He added: “There were other guests in the restaurant and they were getting quite concerned. I was nice about it, but I had to say I couldn’t serve them. It’s hard to turn down business.
“But we have a duty to protect our guests and our staff and I couldn’t put anyone at risk.”
Moore said the incident had ruined the trip, which was his wife’s first visit to the UK to see where he had grown up.
“She feels she has been shamed in public and since it happens she hasn’t wanted to go out,” he said.
“The worst thing you can do in China is to shame someone in front of other people. That’s the lowest of the low. No one would ever do that to you in China.”