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Amid coronavirus fears, Chinese restaurant chain refuses service to anyone with a fever

Some on social media praised the restaurant for the practice, while others were critical.
/ Source: NBC News

A Chinese restaurant chain in Southern California is responding to the coronavirus outbreak by checking customers' temperatures before letting them inside and refusing service to anyone with a fever.

The eatery, Sichuan Impression, which has restaurants in Alhambra, Los Angeles and Tustin, announced the new policy Jan. 26 on its Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"As a Chinese restaurant rooted in Los Angeles that aims at thriving the traditional Chinese culinary culture, Sichuan Impression also pays close attention to the development of this new epidemic," reads the caption of a photo with a man seen having his temperature taken.

A coronavirus notice posted in the window of the Sichuan Impression restaurant in Tustin, California, advises potential patrons that waitstaff will be taking their temperature before allowing them to dine.Kat De Angelis

"We at Sichuan Impression respect and enjoy having our guests who come from all corners of the world," the post said. "Offering you a healthy and safe dinning environment is also upheld as our top priority."

Sichuan Impression said that after careful consideration, it has adopted prevention and control measures that include testing each guest with an infrared thermometer.

"If any abnormal symptom, such as fever, is identified, we will immediately assist to contact the nearest medical service," the restaurant chain said.

Anyone who refuses to cooperate with the temperature measurement, will be denied service "for the time being," the restaurant said, adding that customers are encouraged to order takeout and will receive a 5% discount if they do.

Lilli Lei, the restaurant's owner, told NBC Los Angeles employees are scanned twice a day and sent home if their temperatures are abnormal.

Some Instagram users praised the restaurant for policy, noting that it is similar to one in place in Taiwan, which has had only one death due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning.

"This is how Taiwan is helping to keep the spread of virus down," that Instagram user wrote. "They check temperatures of people wanting to take local transportation such as trains, buses, even taxis. Temperatures are taken as well at restaurants and that is probably one reason why the cases have been low."

But others accused Sichuan Impression of stoking fear and spreading misinformation.

"Just because one has a fever, doesn’t mean they have coronavirus," an Instagram user commented on the restaurant's photo of a man having his temperature taken. "They could have a number of things going on. You need to stop this paranoia, it’s a virus yes, but if you are healthy and wash your hands and cover your sneezes you should be just fine."

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, a cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult. Unlike the flu, runny or stuffy noses are not normally among the first symptoms of coronavirus.

Sichuan Impression did not immediately return NBC News' request for an interview Tuesday.