Beaches will be anything but crowded thanks to virus

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Beaches will be anything but crowded thanks to virus

Beachgoers this year may have to make a reservation with local government offices just to get a spot on the sand.
  
That’s one of the measures authorities are discussing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo revealed Thursday in a meeting of the Korean central government’s Covid-19 command center.  
  
By restricting the number of sunbathers at any time on a beach, health officials hope visitors will maintain a distance of 2 meters (6.6 feet) from each other.
 
“Health authorities and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries are thinking about revising the social guidelines for beaches to introduce a beach reservation system,” said Park. “It’s going to be our first time trying it, so we need bright ideas from each local government office” to make this work. 
 
Most local governments with beaches have already delayed their official openings by about a month, from early June to early July, as the Covid-19 outbreak continues. Beaches in Korea are technically open to the public year-round, but for popular ones, local government offices set official opening dates during which they deploy lifeguards, organize concerts and allow vendors to rent out umbrellas. 
 
Park also described more Covid-19 infections coming from the health care company Richway in Gwanak District, southern Seoul. Unlike in the early phase of the cluster when elderly people were being affected, health officials are now detecting cases among younger people, Park noted.
  
Across the nation, 59 new people were diagnosed with the coronavirus Wednesday, up from 43 the day before, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).   
 
Eight cases were imported: two each from the Americas, Europe, Turkey and Kazakhstan. The vast majority of domestic cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, as several clusters continue to grow: 24 cases were from Seoul and 15 in Gyeonggi. Seven cases were detected in Daejeon, three in South Chungcheong and one each in Sejong and North Jeolla.  
  
By Wednesday midnight, 280 people had died, up by one from the day before, while 10,800 people had been declared fully recovered, up by 26 from the previous day.
  
Korea’s total case load now stands at 12,257. 
 
Among the latest Covid-19 cases was a man in his 70s who lives in Yongin, Gyeonggi, and worked as a safety patrol agent in City Hall Station on Seoul subway lines No. 1 and 2 in Jung District, central Seoul. A total of four people have been linked to the station so far, ever since Seoul Metro, which operates subway lines in the capital, announced Wednesday that some of its workers have been infected.
 
All four men are in their 70s or 80s and worked as safety patrol agents at City Hall Station. 
 
The first person to have been diagnosed among the four was a 74-year-old man who lives in Bucheon, Gyeonggi. He received his positive test results on Monday and he appears to have spread the disease to his three other colleagues, but how he got infected remains a mystery, officials said.
  
The rest of his colleagues on the job are being tested, and so are some 30 workers at City Hall Station. 
 
A string of infections in Daejeon also rose to at least 25 as of Thursday noon, with most cases coming from a church and several marketing businesses. 
 
A man in Seoul was arrested Wednesday on charges of obstruction of business after he refused to wear a face mask on a bus, officers from the Jungbu Police Precinct said. According to police, the man got on the bus at Yaksu-dong, Jung District, at around 3 p.m. without a face covering. The bus driver asked him to get off, but he refused, and they wrangled for about 30 minutes before the driver called police and officers forced the passenger off the vehicle.   
 
The Korean government issued an administrative order late last month requiring all passengers on public transportation to wear face masks, and allowed bus and taxi drivers to deny entry to passengers who refuse to comply.  
  
BY LEE SUNG-EUN   [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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