What are the standards here?After the government once again extended the toughest Level 4 social distancing rule by four more weeks from Monday, over 7 million self-employed business owners are outraged again. The government has extended the operating hours of restaurants and cafes by one hour to 10 p.m., but they demand the government release scientific data justifying the reason for the one-month extension of the toughest social distancing.
The self-employed believed the government tightened or eased its social distancing guidelines based on scientific data. But that was not the case. A lawmaker of the opposition People Power Party (PPP) demanded data on the spread of Covid-19 over time from the government, but received no such data. It is shocking that the government determined distancing rules even without statistics on the degree of infection over time.
Citizens sincerely followed the guidelines by writing down their names on a list of visitors and complied with QR code checks risking their privacy. They thought the government accumulated — and analyzed — such data to draw up effective quarantine measures. We are dumbfounded that the government does not have such data.
We cannot but ask why the government decided to extend shops’ operating hours by one hour as if doing a favor and why only two people can meet after 6 p.m. The same confusion continues. We wonder why up to eight members of a family can gather indoors during the Chuseok holidays and why only four members can pay respects at the graves of their ancestors during the same period.
Jung Ki-suck, a professor of pulmonology at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital and former director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, criticized the government for restricting their operating hours without any scientific data. Such a naïve attitude has caused the number of cases to remain in the four digits since July 12 when the government enforced the highest Level 4 rules.
The government seems to have a faith in regulation-based approach. That only gives more pain to self-employed businesses.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), said that she expects the “With Covid” strategy to start by the end of October. She must first present scientific grounds for the government’s distancing guidelines as soon as possible.