Curfews to be lifted Nov. 1 as normalcy slowly returns

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

Curfews to be lifted Nov. 1 as normalcy slowly returns

A sign saying "24 Hours Always Open" hangs in front of a cafe in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Monday. The government announced a draft for the "With Corona" scheme that will allow restaurants and bars to stay open 24 hours a day. [YONHAP]

A sign saying "24 Hours Always Open" hangs in front of a cafe in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Monday. The government announced a draft for the "With Corona" scheme that will allow restaurants and bars to stay open 24 hours a day. [YONHAP]

 
Korea unveiled a draft for its “With Corona” strategies that will lift curfews on restaurants, pubs and cafes on the first day of November and allow up to 10 people to gather.
 
The Central Disaster Management Headquarters unveiled a blueprint for a phased return to normalcy, much like the “living with Covid” measures being implemented in other countries, at a public hearing at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul on Monday. With more than 70 percent of Korea vaccinated against Covid-19 as of last Saturday, the government is shifting focus away from new infection counts and opening up businesses.
 
“The social distancing restrictions will be lifted in three stages every six weeks starting from Nov. 1,” said Son Young-rae, a senior epidemiological strategist, on Monday.
 
The four-tiers of social distancing measures, which were applied in each region based on their number of infections, will be applied uniformly nationwide.
 
The first stage, beginning Nov. 1, is aimed at easing restrictions on businesses, the second stage at allowing large-scale events and the third at removing restrictions on social gatherings.
 
Each stage will go through a four-week implementation period and a two-week evaluation period, although the government said the evaluation period may be shortened or prolonged depending on the virus situation. It will comprehensively evaluate the fully-vaccinated rate, the capacity of intensive care units (ICU) and other hospital beds, the weekly number of severe patients and fatalities, and the basic reproduction number (R0) for the virus to decide whether to move on to the next step.
 
 Employees of Mode Tour work at the company headquarters in Jung District, central Seoul, on Monday. The government announced a draft plan for the "With Corona" scheme, and travel agencies are hoping it will help revive their businesses. [YONHAP]

Employees of Mode Tour work at the company headquarters in Jung District, central Seoul, on Monday. The government announced a draft plan for the "With Corona" scheme, and travel agencies are hoping it will help revive their businesses. [YONHAP]

 
Under the first stage, the government will remove limits on business hours in most facilities. Only clubs and bars that allow dancing will be required to close at midnight, and even that will be lifted in the second stage set to begin around mid-December.
 
Social gatherings will be allowed up to 10 people regardless of vaccination status in all facilities in the first and second stages. The limit will be removed completely under the third stage around late January. However, unvaccinated people may be limited to smaller gatherings in restaurants and cafes, while the specific numbers are still being discussed.
 
Some places will require a “vaccine pass,” or a Covid health pass system similar to those used overseas, for entry, including noraebang (singing rooms), bathhouses, indoor sports facilities, clubs and bars that allow dancing, casinos, nursing homes and senior citizen communities.
 
Vaccine passes can be a digital vaccine certificate from the mobile application COOV, a paper certificate or a sticker from local community service centers on ID cards. To get into those places, an unvaccinated person must present a negative PCR test result from that previous two days. 
 
Eating and drinking in theaters and sports stadiums will still be prohibited, with fully vaccinated people allowed to consume food and beverages in designated areas. Running on treadmills at over 6 kilometers per hour or using showers in gyms will only be allowed to fully vaccinated people.
 
Mass events will be limited to less than 100 people if they include unvaccinated people in the first and second stages. If the crowd all have vaccine passes or recent negative tests, the cap will be eased to 499 people in the first stage, and lifted completely in the second. All restrictions will be removed under stage 3.
 
Religious facilities are limited to 50 percent of their capacities in the first stage. They will face no restrictions if they introduce a vaccine pass system.
 
Wearing face masks indoors will be mandatory in all stages, while the government hinted at removing outdoor mask mandates from the second stage.
 
The possibility remains of a resurgence of infections following a relaxation of the rules, as seen in such countries as the United Kingdom and Germany. On Monday, Korea reported 1,190 new Covid-19 cases and seven more virus deaths. Some 10 million people still remain unvaccinated, and those who have completed inoculation may face problems of decreased vaccine efficacy and the continued emergence of variants.
 
“Experts believe that the number of infections will inevitably increase if the distancing rules are loosened, which the government agrees with,” Son said. 
 
An elderly woman takes a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at a medical clinic in Dongjak District, southern Seoul, on Monday, as such shots for people aged 75 or over began nationwide the same day. [YONHAP]

An elderly woman takes a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at a medical clinic in Dongjak District, southern Seoul, on Monday, as such shots for people aged 75 or over began nationwide the same day. [YONHAP]

 
If a risk of collapse of the medical system is detected, such as free ICU and hospital beds falling below 20 percent, the government will temporarily suspend the “With Corona” measures and initiate an emergency plan by expanding the vaccine pass system, limiting gatherings and business hours, banning visits to nursing homes and conducting preemptive Covid-19 tests on employees in high-risk facilities.
 
Home treatment will be expanded to all asymptomatic or mildly-ill Covid-19 patients under the age of 70, and the current operation of residential treatment centers will be reduced.
 
In addition, a government-private sector committee for recovery of normal life from Covid-19 will come up with plans to return to normalcy in the economy and public welfare, society and culture, administration and safety sectors on Wednesday, and health authorities will announce the final plan this Friday.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
s
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now