Everyone can't wait for days of 'With Corona'
A major business lobbying group welcomed the transition to a so-called "With Corona" strategy, with job seekers also looking forward to the change.
Korea's strategy is on the same lines as the "With Covid" strategy being discussed in other countries around the world, aiming to ease social distancing regulations and make life more normal. It puts less emphasis on restricting the number of daily new infections and more on opening up the economy.
The government has been hinting that the strategy could be introduced in November. As promised, a government-private sector Covid-19 Normal Life Recovery Committee was launched Wednesday to lead the return to normal life.
The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) said Tuesday that now is the right time for Korea to shift strategies.
“The right time to shift to the 'With Corona' scheme is when countries hit milestones of 70 percent [of the population having] first-doses of vaccination and 60 percent having second doses,” said a spokesperson for FKI. “We’ve now reached a point that is best to return to normal since 73.3 percent of Koreans approve the transition, according to a Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea survey, and we've reached 77.5 percent first dose vaccinations and 54.6 percent second dose vaccinations as of Oct. 5.”
The FKI said a return to normalcy would spark an economic rebound, citing the situation in other countries.
Britain announced July 19 as “Freedom Day,” lifting most Covid-19 restrictions and allowing businesses to open freely. Following eased regulations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revised its economic outlook in September and projected the UK economy will grow 6.7 percent this year. That outlook was a sharp increase from OECD's December 2020 projection that the country would grow 4.2 percent this year.
Singapore eased limits on social gatherings from two persons to up to five on Aug. 10 and allowed companies to have 50 percent of employees return to the workplace. The Asian Development Bank revised its 2021 economic outlook for Singapore from 4.5 percent in December last year to 6.5 percent in September.
“We welcome the government’s decision in considering to shift to the 'With Corona' scheme in early November,” said Kim Bong-man, head of the International Affairs department of the FKI. “There are high expectations for an economic rebound after the transition, and the government needs to strive to achieve both economic growth and control the pandemic.”
Some companies may choose to allow employees to continue working from home.
In a survey of 300 small- and medium-sized business with fewer than 300 employees conducted by recruitment website Job Korea, 43.7 percent said they will continue to allow employees to work from home even under the "With Corona" plan.
Working from home could be the new normal, but cafes and restaurant owners in business districts will see more customers if people return to the office. Another 15.8 percent of the companies said they will put a stop to remote work and 40.5 percent said they were not sure yet.
People struggling to find jobs are anticipating a brighter future. In a survey of 1,041 job seekers between the ages of 20 and 39 by recruitment platform Catch, 56.8 percent said they expect companies to hire more under the "With Corona" strategy. In another question asked in the survey, 67.5 percent said the change will help job seeking activities. Many expected offline activities such as campus recruitments and big-scale job fairs will return, making it easier for potential employees to gain career information and meet recruiters.
"There are inevitable constraints when conducting online events, rather than offline ones," said the head of Catch's Job Contents division Kim Jung-hyun. "We're only at the discussion stage for return to normalcy, but the change will be beneficial for companies and job seekers."
BY LEE TAE-HEE, BAEK IL-HYUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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