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Fact check: London bar’s ban on ‘extended eye contact’ is a satirical add to coronavirus restrictions, and not an actual rule.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

An image of a London bar’s list of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which includes a satirical comment, has been mistakenly interpreted as serious by some social media users.

The image, posted to Facebook from several accounts (here, here, here) on an anti-mask group, lists guidelines that customers at a taproom in London Fields are expected to follow. They include wearing a face mask and using hand sanitiser. One of the bullet points reads: “No handshaking, high fiving or extended eye contact with anyone not on your table.”

This phrase referring to “extended eye contact” was particularly highlighted by many Facebook users who appeared to believe the request was genuine, per their comments beneath the post. One user wrote: “Don’t spend your pennies there. They will soon go under. Eye contact? What a load of bollocks but the sheep will lap it up. Please sir, can l have some more rules?”

Another added: “Errrrr so eye contact at close range is fine but if you make eye contact with someone who’s too far away you will get corona? Ok that’s a new way of transmitting it, and it only transmits the virus at range?”

But according to Paris Capone, an events manager at London Field’s Brewery, the reference was intended to engage customers and get them to pay attention to the rest of the listed guidelines.

She told Reuters: “The health and safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and we’re strictly adhering to all latest public health guidance inside the taproom. The reference to no eye-contact was intended to be an engaging way to encourage customers to read and take notice of the broader guidelines, but we have since removed it in case it was distracting from the overall serious messages around safely enjoying the taproom.”

VERDICT

Satire. The comment banning “extended eye contact” between tables in the bar was not intended to be serious and was instead a ploy by the establishment to urge customers to pay attention to the rest of the listed rules.

Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.

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