It’s not overThe government attempted to ease the social distancing rules strictly banning private gatherings of more than four from July 1. But it had to postpone the easing by a week after new Covid-19 cases started to surge. That was an unavoidable decision by the government. But the zigzagging by the health authorities until the last minute caused much confusion and public distrust of government policy.
The medical community has urged authorities to put off the easing of rules by about two weeks after the Delta variant of the coronavirus from India started to spread in Korea. Jeong Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), asked the government to “reinforce quarantine activities in the Greater Seoul area,” but that call was rejected by the Blue House and the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.
In early June, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said it would implement partially-revised distancing guidelines from July 1 after advice from Ki Mo-ran, a professor of preventive medicine at the time and the current vaccine czar in the Blue House. The problem is that the government hurriedly changed course and postponed it just eight hours before implementing the new rules after Covid-19 cases sharply increased. If the government had listened to warnings from medical professionals, it could have avoided such confusion.
The price is being paid by ordinary people. Owners of mom-and-pop restaurants are complaining after purchasing a lot of supplies to prepare for extended operating hours. Young part-time workers at restaurants are sighing after their working hours were not extended. Employees of companies had to cancel parties of more than four.
The government should be held accountable for the surge in daily Covid-19 cases. Elated by relatively speedy inoculations, it was too busy patting itself on the back. The spread of the Delta variant could be a worry. It is not the time to relax. The health authorities must delay the implementation of eased distancing rules even more in the Greater Seoul area if necessary. As of June 30, 15.3 million citizens, or 29.0 percent of the entire population, was vaccinated. We still have a long way to go. The government needs to consider the idea of shortening the interval between the two AstraZeneca shots to four weeks and reconsider the exemption of self-isolation for travelers who got Chinese vaccines.
Even after 55 percent of its people are vaccinated, Israel recommended people wear face masks indoors. Some U.S. states are telling people to put their masks back on, even if they were inoculated. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.