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(LEAD) Gov't vows quarantine efforts to allow social distancing in daily routines possibly next week

All News 14:51 May 01, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; ADDS details in paras 1-2, 4)

SEOUL, May 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's prime minister said Friday the government will do its best to contain the new coronavirus to enable citizens to practice social distancing in their routines starting next week.

The government is considering carrying out quarantine measures in a way that allows citizens to continue social and economic activities business as usual as early as Wednesday, as four weeks of strict social distancing rules have helped slow the spread of the virus.

"The government will do its best to manage quarantine achievement so it can start implementing social distancing in daily lives on May 6 as it promised earlier," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a meeting to discuss the government's response to COVID-19.

The final decision on when and how the government will implement a set of relaxed measures will be made Sunday based on the number of local and imported cases, public sentiment, the government's preparations and advice from a committee comprising civic representatives and experts on the issue, according to the central anti-disaster headquarters.

To contain the spread of the virus in communities, the government has carried out tough social distancing rules since March 21. It began to relax the guidance last week for churches, gyms and clubs amid a slowdown in new infections.

Chung said the government will discuss ways to resume public institutions like museums and art galleries starting next week.

"There will still be some restrictions on entry and a request for wearing face masks inside such institutions, but I believe those measures would certainly help return a sense of normalcy to the people," he said.

Chung also called on public health authorities and people not to let down their guard, considering the nature of the fast-spreading virus for which there is no vaccine.

The announcement came as the country reported no homegrown case of COVID-19 the previous day for the first time in 72 days.

The country reported nine more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,774.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a government meeting on coronavirus responses in Seoul on May 1, 2020. (Yonhap)


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