Expect reservations and heat-detecting stickers for your next beach trip
With summer quickly approaching, anyone planning to spend time at a beach in Korea will have to make a reservation beforehand and put on a special temperature-sensitive sticker to, hopefully, prevent any spread of Covid-19.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced Wednesday strengthened preventive measures against the virus to be applied at beaches, as more people are expected to travel locally as the country’s inoculation rate speeds up.
According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the number of beach visitors last year stood only at 26.8 million, down 60 percent from 67.67 million in 2019.
Visitors will be required to dial a designated phone number at each beach to register themselves when they arrive.
Previously, visitors had to either write down their name and phone number on a list manually or register through a digital QR code, which raised concerns about leaking personal information and spreading the virus while trying to register in a crowd.
Visitors will also be given a special body-temperature sticker, which changes color when one's body temperature rises past 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit), to be attached on their hand or wrist. It can be used for up to 48 hours.
If the sticker changes color, visitors must report to the control office.
At smaller beaches, staff will give visitors a wrist band after taking their temperature. By showing the wrist band, visitors can use the facilities in the area, including restaurants, without having to get their temperature checked again.
They will also require visitors to use a QR code to use shower rooms and borrow swimming accessories.
From July, people will also be able to check the congestion of any local beaches online before making a visit. The system categorizes them on a color spectrum going from green to yellow and red based on the beach's capacity.
Green means the capacity rate is less than 100 percent, while yellow indicates it is between 100 to 200 percent. If red, it means the capacity has exceeded 200 percent.
The government decided to expand the congestion information system to all 277 local beaches, from 50 the previous year.
The information can be found online through Naver, Kakao or the government’s website (www.seantour.kr).
To disperse visitors, a total of 50 beaches in Korea will require visitors to make a reservation through the Naver website.
The ban on eating and drinking on beaches after 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. will be applied again this year as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus.
"As many people tired of the pandemic are expected to visit the beach this summer, we will implement strengthened public health measures so that people can enjoy the beach safely," said Song Sang-geun, head of the Maritime Policy Division at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
“Since public cooperation is essential, especially in preventing the virus spread at beaches, we ask you to comply with basic health measures such as social distancing and to understand the government’s implementation of various measures," Song added.
Starting with the partial opening of the Haeundae and Songjeong beaches in Busan on Tuesday, all 265 beaches across the country will start to gradually open from July.
On Wednesday, Korea's daily new coronavirus infections bounced back to 677 cases, including 654 local infections, raising the total caseload to 141,476, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
There were two additional virus deaths, raising the total to 1,965.
As of Tuesday midnight, 12.4 percent of Korea's population, or 6.35 million people, had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 4.3 percent, or 2.19 million people, had been fully vaccinated.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]