Covid curfew goes to midnight on Monday

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Covid curfew goes to midnight on Monday

A restaurant owner in Seoul posts a sign that says private gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed starting Monday, after the government announced relaxed social distancing measures Friday. The curfew will be pushed to midnight. [NEWS1]

A restaurant owner in Seoul posts a sign that says private gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed starting Monday, after the government announced relaxed social distancing measures Friday. The curfew will be pushed to midnight. [NEWS1]

The Covid curfew is being pushed to midnight starting Monday, and private gatherings will be allowed up to 10 people, the government announced Friday.
 
Currently, private gatherings are limited to eight people while restaurants bars and cafes are forced to close at 11 p.m.  
 
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said in a Covid-19 meeting that the eased social distancing regulations will take effect for two weeks starting Monday.  
 
Kim indicated that this could be the last adjustment to the regulations before a possible lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions.  
 
This could include outdoor mask-wearing rules. It's expected that indoor mask-wearing will still be encouraged.  
 
Kim said, "If there is a decrease in serious cases and deaths and the medical system is stably managed in the next two weeks, we will boldly overhaul the remaining antivirus measures."
 
He added, "Omicron, which has been spreading for more than two months, has now passed its peak and entered a downward trend."
 
Kim said if most Covid-19 patients can get face-to-face treatment without inconvenience at local hospitals and clinics, "As one foreign media outlet forecast, Korea will transition into an endemic."
 
He referred to a report in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that cited an expert's opinion that "Korea could be the first country to transition into an endemic."
 
All fully vaccinated travelers from abroad will be able to enter Korea without any quarantine starting today.
  
Foreign travelers from Myanmar, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Pakistan had been excluded from the list of quarantine exemptions that went into effect a week ago.  
 
They had to undergo seven days of isolation regardless of their vaccine status.  
 
Incoming travelers are now allowed to use public transportation. People who arrived in the country previously were restricted to quarantine taxis or personal vehicles to leave the airport.
 
Korea saw daily Covid-19 cases drop below 300,000 for the first time in four days Friday. That is a big drop from a high of 621,205 cases on March 17.
 
The average number of daily confirmed cases in the past week stood at 320,000, a 20 percent decrease from two weeks ago, when the average was 400,000.
 
The country reported 280,273 new infections, bringing total cases to 13,375,818, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Friday.  
 
There were 360 more fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 16,590.  
 
There were 1,299 critically ill patients on Friday, slightly down from a record high of 1,315 the previous day, said the KDCA. 
 
The government thinks the Omicron wave, which began in early January, passed its peak at 11 weeks and gradually turned to a downward trend from the end of March.
 
The government also decided to stop giving subsidies of 100,000 won for funerals of people who died of Covid-19.
 
Airport staffers remove signs for quarantine taxis and buses at the arrival hall at Incheon International Airport, on Friday, after the government lifted most measures on foreign travelers. All fully vaccinated travelers from abroad can enter the country without a seven-day quarantine period and can also take public transportation. [NEWS1]

Airport staffers remove signs for quarantine taxis and buses at the arrival hall at Incheon International Airport, on Friday, after the government lifted most measures on foreign travelers. All fully vaccinated travelers from abroad can enter the country without a seven-day quarantine period and can also take public transportation. [NEWS1]


BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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