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People's Daily Online

S.Korea to tighten social-distancing measures on COVID-19 resurgence

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:36, August 28, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Friday announced a plan to tighten social-distancing measures, including the restriction on running practices of coffee shops and restaurants, in the Seoul metropolitan area amid a growing worry here about the COVID-19 resurgence.

South Korean Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a press briefing that tighter quarantine measures would be taken towards cafes and restaurants in Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan area from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 while keeping the Level 2 social-distancing guidelines in place.

Under the tighter scheme, only takeout and delivery will be permitted in franchise coffee chains, where people will be required to wait in line for orders at an interval of at least one meter, wear masks and report identification.

Restaurants and bakeries will be allowed to do normal businesses, but only takeaway and delivery will be permitted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time for eight days through Sept. 6.

The tighter measures will affect around 380,000 restaurants and bakeries in the Seoul metropolitan area, a home to about half of the country's 51 million population.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting to contain the virus that the strengthened quarantine measures were considered because people most frequently visit restaurants and cafes during daily life.

Chung said the Level 2 social-distancing guidelines will be maintained for one more week until Sept. 6 in Seoul and its adjacent area, noting that the Level 3 campaign will remain a choice of last resort given its economic and social ripple effect.

In the latest tally, the country reported 371 more cases of the COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, raising the combined number to 19,077.

The daily caseload was down from the previous day's six-month high of 441, but it kept growing in triple digits for 15 straight days due to church services and a massive rally in central Seoul, held on Aug. 15 by conservative voters, politicians and church members.

To address the virus spread, the government raised the social-distancing requirements to Level 2 on Aug. 16 in the Seoul metropolitan area. It was expanded to the whole country a week later.

Under the Level 2 campaign, the indoor gatherings of over 50 people and the outdoor events of over 100 people are banned, while public and high-risk private facilities are prohibited from doing businesses.

The Level 3 guidelines ban all the gatherings, meetings and events of over 10 people as well as all sports event. All the public and private facilities will be closed down except for essential economic and social purposes.

Meanwhile, the government also banned the operation of some 63,000 private cram schools with over 10 students in the Seoul metropolitan area from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6.

Around 28,000 indoor sports facilities, such as gym and swimming pool, will be prohibited from running businesses as small cluster infections were recently reported in such facilities.

The visit to nursing homes and convalescent hospitals will be banned to protect the elderly, more vulnerable to the virus infection.

At least one-third of employees in the government and public institutions will work at home, while private companies will be recommended to take similar steps.

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