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Thousands of religious facilities violate anti-infection rules

All Headlines 17:14 March 27, 2020

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The government has caught more than 5,900 religious facilities violating the guidelines to prevent spread of coronavirus this week, officials said Friday.

As part of a sweeping two-week social distancing drive launched Sunday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters conducted on-site inspections of a total of 44,296 religious facilities across the country over four days through Wednesday.

Of them, 5,937 were found breaking the rules, including checking visitors' body temperatures and having people maintain 2 meters of space between them.

The authorities issued executive orders for 581 of the facilities. Those who do not comply with such orders could be fined up to 3 million won (US$2,477) and also face damage claims from the government should infection occur there.

For the remaining 5,356 facilities, the government issued executive guidances, which call for voluntary cooperation.

"We appreciate that many religious organizations have refrained from holding events and joined the social distancing drive. But worship services are still taking place at some churches and more understanding and participation are needed from the religious circles," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official overseeing anti-infection efforts at the headquarters, said.

The office also said it will encourage private educational institutes to conduct remote learning to prevent students from gathering.

Most private institutes have closed since late February as schools have postponed the start of the new semester, originally scheduled for early March, to April 6.

The headquarters said it will push to simplify relevant regulations so that private institutes can register to provide remote learning.

The disaster center has been conducting on-site inspections of such educational facilities jointly with local education offices and fire services since Wednesday.

This March 4, 2020, photo shows a Catholic church being disinfected in Seoul. (Yonhap News)


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