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Visitors to local beaches down 60 pct amid virus pandemic

All News 11:00 September 18, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Friday the number of beachgoers plummeted 60 percent in 2020 from a year earlier, as the country limited the number of visitors to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The number of beachgoers this year came to 26.8 million, compared to 67.6 million posted a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The southern port city of Busan accounted for more than half of the visitors, the data showed.

Amid the virus pandemic, South Korea only opened 251 out of 274 public beaches in this year's vacation season. They were shut down on Aug. 23, as the country rolled out the Level 2 social distancing scheme.

People can still visit the beaches, but they will not be allowed to rent beach equipment or use shower booths.

People swim at Gyeongpo Beach in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Aug. 22, 2020. All the beaches around the country will be closed from midnight Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

Under the Level 2 restrictions, outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are strictly restricted. If they are held indoors, the ceiling is 50 people.

South Korea has also been adopting an alert system on major beaches that bans the entry of additional visitors in crowded areas to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under the measure, authorities issue the "red" alert when the number of visitors at beaches exceeds the level where they can keep a safe distance.

"So far, there have been no cluster infections from beaches, as people cooperated with the country's anti-virus measures," an official from the ministry said.

On Friday, South Korea reported 126 more COVID-19 cases, raising its caseload to 22,783.

colin@yna.co.kr
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