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Companies take more steps as COVID-19 infections soar

All News 12:13 August 24, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean companies are taking additional steps to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, as the government has applied a stricter social distancing level amid soaring infections.

The country's major companies said they are adopting stricter quarantine measures for their employees, offices and production facilities due to a recent spike in COVID-19 infections since mid-August.

Non-manufacturing companies have some of their employees working from home or a minimum number of employees coming to the office at least until the end of August. Manufacturing firms have taken a similar measure for their office workers, but their assembly-line workers come to work to avoid production losses.

This file photo shows Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp.'s headquarters in Yangjae, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

The number of additional new coronavirus cases in South Korea came to 266 on Monday, raising the total caseload to 17,665, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The government has raised the social distancing guidelines for the country by one notch to Level 2 of the three-tier system.

Under Level 2, high-risk facilities, including karaoke rooms, clubs, internet cafes and buffet restaurants, have been ordered to shut down. Sunday church services are also banned. Indoor gatherings of more than 50 people and outdoor events with more than 100 people are strictly prohibited.

Hyundai Motor Group, which hires about 100,000 people in South Korea, said it will flexibly respond to the government's enhanced quarantine guidelines.

"We are allowing more office employees to work from home if they have reasons to do so. The company is focusing on preventing the spread of the coronavirus at its (domestic) plants, in particular," a company spokesman said.

LG Group restricts visitors from entering its offices and production facilities, while keeping employees from attending events of over 20 people and face-to-face meetings of over 10 people.

The chemicals-to-handset conglomerate also recommends working from home for pregnant employees and others who prefer to stay at home until the coronavirus slows down.

SK Group, a chemicals-to-semiconductors conglomerate, said more employees at its affiliates are choosing to work from home due to virus fears.

But Samsung Group, which has Samsung Electronics Co. as its flagship unit, has not set any particular guidelines to urge its employees to work from home despite the virus.

"At Samsung Electronics, most of the employees in offices and production lines continue to come to work. It is impossible for production-line employees to work from home," a company spokesman said.

This photo, taken July 14, 2020, shows Samsung Electronics Co.'s logo in front of its headquarters building in Seocho, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Airline companies were the first to have their employees take turns to work from home as the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to their flight operations.

Local airlines suspended most of their flights on international routes since late March, as more than 180 countries and territories closed their borders or imposed entry restrictions on incoming passengers amid virus fears.

In its self-help measures, Korean Air Lines Co. had 70 percent of its 20,000-strong workforce take paid leave for six months starting April 16, as it strives to overcome the prolonged crisis caused by the pandemic.

Asiana Airlines Inc. had all of its 10,500 employees take unpaid leave for 15 days a month since April until business circumstances normalize. Asiana's executives have also agreed to forgo 60 percent of their wages, though no specific time frame was given for how long the pay cuts will remain in effect.

The country's two full-service carriers said some of their employees will continue to work from home until the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of slowing down.

This file photo, taken July 29, 2020, shows planes parked at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)


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