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(LEAD) Seoul suspends 'coin noraebang' to contain virus

All News 18:09 May 22, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 3-6, 8-9)

SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- In its latest effort to contain the new coronavirus, the Seoul city government on Friday ordered all coin-operated karaoke rooms in the city to suspend business ahead of the weekend.

Under the administrative order which has taken effect, 569 "coin noraebang" will be banned from hosting guests until further notice.

The city government said businesses and visitors that breach the order may face fines of up to 3 million won (US$2,420). It also plans to file compensation suits against them for treatment and quarantine costs.

City authorities and police are scheduled to conduct on-site inspections of the karaoke facilities between May 25 and 31, it added.

A notice on business suspension is seen at the entrance of a "coin noraebang" in the northeastern Seoul ward of Dobong on May 22, 2020, where infections were reported. (Yonhap)

"(The city) issues the no-assembly administrative order since it is difficult to manage these facilities under quarantine guidelines, as there are many cases in which coin noraebang are operated unmanned and are hard to ventilate," Mayor Park Won-soon said in a press release.

Park also urged other karaoke facilities to strictly follow quarantine guidelines even though they were excluded from Friday's measure.

On Thursday, the city government of Incheon, west of Seoul, also ordered a two-week closure of such facilities after infections were reported.

A number of infections have been reported at coin-operated karaoke facilities in Seoul and surrounding areas, putting health authorities on alert over additional infections in closed venues -- such as bars and internet cafes -- that are popular among the younger generation.

Of the country's 11,142 cases of COVID-19 infections, 27.9 percent involve patients in their twenties.

A coin noraebang is a type of karaoke room where people pay per song using coins.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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