‘Untact’ for Chuseok and Oct. 3The so-called Level 2.5 social distancing rule — slightly weaker than the highest Level 3 restriction order — has extended into the second week in the capital region. Eating-in will remain prohibited after 9 p.m., gyms and other public facilities closed and after-dark bus hours shortened until Sept. 13. Only take-out is allowed in franchise coffee shops, a rule that will also apply to bakeries and ice cream shops from this week. Level 2 will also be kept in place for the rest of the country.
Prolonging social restrictions have destabilized self-employed business and livelihoods. Two sisters who jointly ran a noraebang, or singing room, committed suicide. The strict limits for everyday activities will cripple the economy. School openings have been delayed until Sept. 20, with the exception of high school seniors. Working couples have already used up their child care leave and are having trouble finding caretakers.
Still, trouble is inevitable. The daily count in new coronavirus cases has come under 200 for the last couple of days, but over 20 percent of patients cannot identify where they got infected, underscoring a lingering danger from a new spike in infections. The outbreak resurged after the long holiday in May and the long weekend in August. People must endure discomforts for a little longer to prevent greater danger.
Former prime minister and new ruling party head Lee Nak-yon pleaded to the people to restrain from moving around during the five-day Chuseok holiday. A stay-at-home order may be hard to abide by during the holiday, but all the painstaking efforts over the last few weeks will go to waste if the virus outbreak is renewed.
The extreme right-wing groups must also cancel their plan for rallies on the Oct. 3 National Founding Day. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the tally of Covid-19 cases from a downtown rally in Seoul on Aug. 15 Liberation Day topped 500. Protest assemblies, in which a large crowd shouts chants, become the epicenter for a spread. Holding assemblies for political purposes is an offense to society staking their livelihoods, businesses, families and comforts for communal interests. They are not just putting themselves at risk, but the entire country as well.
Police and the Seoul Metropolitan Government denied all 27 applications for assemblies by seven organizations. If they want to reverse the decision through a court, the court also must reject it. The court allowed some groups to hold rallies on Aug. 15 because “there had been no infection from outside assemblies” and it believed in self-restraint of the organizers. But the court no longer has reason to grant assemblies.