Filling the loophole with citizenshipThe government’s enforcement of Level 2.5 social distancing has brought about a big change in lifestyles in and around Seoul. People can no longer sit down for a drink in coffee shop chains and must leave diners or bars before 9 p.m. Schooling and entertainment activities also have come to a halt, as academies, noraebangs (singing rooms), fitness centers and billiard rooms must stay closed for at least a week. Buses have become rarer during nighttime.
The so-called 2.5 level was improvised on concerns of the economic and social tolls of a full-scale lockdown under Level 3, which has never been executed in Korea. Even considering the inevitable mistakes from the first trial of Level 2.5, the guidelines turned out to have many contradictions.
For one, people can buy coffees and drinks in coffee shop chains, yet cannot sit inside of them. And customers are still allowed to drink coffee in non-franchise coffee shops. They also can sit in bakeries that currently serve as coffee shops. As a result, coffee shops that do not bear franchised names had more customers than usual. It seems that such discrepancy was left in consideration of the need to protect the self-employed. But actually, coffee franchises are also run by the self-employed after making contracts with franchisers.
That’s not all. While suspension of school returns, high school seniors will go back to school after their summer break. Although the move would be necessary to meet the curriculum before the college entry exam, high school seniors are exposed to virus risks. The Education Ministry needs to take a more flexible approach instead of sticking to the schedule for state college entry exams.
Hundreds of self-employed and their families have become fretful of their livelihoods due to the government’s toughened social distancing actions. If the spread of Covid-19 eases, their business hours should be normalized as planned from next week.
Above all, the government must set reasonable standards for social restrictions. Civilians also should try not to exploit loopholes in the guidelines. It is not right to have a drinking binge session outside a convenience store just because bars are closed. Everyone must step in to shorten the pain. The government should not take domineering and overbearing approaches. We hope citizens prove that their mature citizenship can be the strongest defense for society.