Government to strengthen social distancing measures from Monday

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

Government to strengthen social distancing measures from Monday

Health Minister Kwon Deok-chul announces renewed social distancing restrictions and the expansion of vaccination pass usage for indoor facilities at the central government headquarters in Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul on Friday. [YONHAP]

Health Minister Kwon Deok-chul announces renewed social distancing restrictions and the expansion of vaccination pass usage for indoor facilities at the central government headquarters in Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul on Friday. [YONHAP]

 
The government will tighten limits on private gatherings nationwide for four weeks starting on Monday to control the rapid spread of Covid-19 after the country's "With Corona" policy was introduced.  
 
The Central Disaster Management Headquarters (CDMC) announced on Friday that the government will “focus on reinforcing disease control measures for the next four weeks” as it declared a return of restrictions on gatherings.
 
The headquarters called the renewed social distancing regulations “a contingency plan in the larger scheme of things.”
 
Although the current stage of loosened social distancing allows for 10 people in the Seoul metropolitan area, and 12 outside, to gather regardless of their vaccination status, the heightened social distancing rules, which take effect Monday, will reduce that number to 6 in the Seoul area and 8 outside.
 
The headquarters also said that the use of vaccination passes to screen visitors will be expanded to include more indoor establishments such as restaurants, cafes, hagwons and internet cafes, also known as PC-bang.  
 
However, unvaccinated individuals who visit restaurants and cafes alone will be exempt from demonstrating proof of vaccination for entry.
 
Private gatherings will allow for at most one unvaccinated person to be present.
 
Indoor establishments that previously did not require proof of vaccination for entry, such as study facilities, indoor athletic fields, museums, party rental spaces and libraries, will now all require proof of vaccination as well.
 
However, indoor facilities where comprehensive checks on vaccination status are difficult, such as wedding halls, supermarkets, grocery stores, outdoor gyms, stadiums, hotels, exhibitions, hair salons, academic conferences and religious facilities will continue to be exempt from screening passes.
 
Following their introduction on Nov. 1, vaccination passes have thus far been mandatory at only select indoor facilities, such as indoor gyms, baths, karaoke bars and nightlife establishments such as bars and clubs.
 
Although the CDMC considered requiring restaurants and cafes to close at 10 p.m. or midnight, it said it ultimately decided against adopting that measure because of the impact it might have on businesses and the economy.
 
The heightened social distancing regulations are expected to last until Jan 2.  
 
To contain the spread of Covid-19 among young people, the CDMC said that vaccination passes will also be introduced for adolescents aged 12 to 18 from February next year.  
 
The late introduction of adolescent vaccination passes is in consideration of the low vaccination rate among teenagers, which currently stands at 26 percent.
 
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum reiterated the government’s call to people to get vaccinated.
 
“Vaccination is the strongest defense against Covid-19, and the key to success lays in the third booster shots for the elderly and vaccination of teenagers.”
 
Health minister Kwon Deok-chul apologized for the re-introduction of limits on gatherings and expansive vaccination mandate to use indoor facilities, but called it necessary in light of the mounting pressure on medical personnel and facilities to care for the country’s Covid-19 caseload.
 
“We deemed it was too difficult to stabilize the current situation, especially considering the Omicron variant, without strengthened anti-disease measures,” Kwon said.
 
The CDMC has expressed particular concern about the Omicron variant, following confirmation that the variant entered Korea through a couple in their 40s who recently traveled to Nigeria and a man in his 30s whom they met after returning.
 
The couple returned to Korea on Nov. 24 after staying in Nigeria from Nov. 14 through 23.  
 
Korea reported 4,944 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 4,923 local infections, raising the total caseload to 462,555, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The number of critically ill patients was 736, up from the previous record high of 733 on Thursday.  
 

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@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