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S. Korea unveils 'everyday life quarantine' guidelines

All News 14:40 April 22, 2020

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday unveiled a set of guidelines for "everyday life quarantine" amid a slowdown in new coronavirus cases.

The draft of new guidelines centers on preventative hygiene measures that communities and individuals should follow when the country initiates "everyday life quarantine," which would allow people to engage in a certain level of economic and social activities while maintaining distance to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Under the guidelines, a community, whether it is a school, a business site or a hobby group, should designate a manager dedicated to quarantine activities and set up virus prevention measures, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.

This manager will be required to actively cooperate with health authorities and will be tasked with monitoring community members' health conditions regularly.

Citizens eat lunch at a food court inside Seoul Station on April 22, 2020. (Yonhap)

Citizens eat lunch at a food court inside Seoul Station on April 22, 2020. (Yonhap)

The government said it will release detailed prevention guidelines for each place in order -- from restaurants to museums -- starting Friday.

The guidelines for individuals were introduced last week, including recommending that people stay home for three to four days if they feel sick, keep a full arms-span distance when meeting others, and wash their hands for at least 30 seconds.

Health officials said they decided to unveil the draft guidelines before the country makes its transition to "everyday life quarantine" because such a system requires earning social consensus.

"These prevention guidelines are likely to create more controversial issues than we thought," said Son Young-rae, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare. "Certain parts, such as issues regarding time and costs, need to be confirmed after social discussion."

The guidelines will be confirmed following a review from the everyday life quarantine committee comprising medical experts, government officials and civil group representatives.

Health officials said the guidelines do not have legal power, emphasizing they are "recommendations."

People exercise on treadmills at a gym in Seoul on April 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

People exercise on treadmills at a gym in Seoul on April 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

However, for some core instructions, the government is considering imposing penalties on those who do not follow the guidelines and giving incentives to those who follow the rules after revising the country's infectious diseases prevention law, according to the officials.

As the number of new COVID-19 infections here showed clear signs of slowing down, South Korea on Monday started to apply a relaxed social distancing advisory to some facilities, including gyms and cram schools.

The country announced it will maintain the nationwide social distancing drive until May 5 and hinted that it will ease some rules under the condition that such facilities comply with safety measures.

"We should now accept that it will take a long time for us to go back to our daily lives that we had experienced before the virus outbreak," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, said. "The government will prepare for a sustainable everyday life quarantine system step by step."


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