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Gov't, religious community discuss loosening restrictions on in-person services

All News 16:25 September 18, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- The government and the religious community are mulling easing the ban on in-person services of large churches starting this weekend, in line with a nationwide lowering of social distancing guidelines over COVID-19, officials said Friday.

All in-person religious events and chapel services in Seoul and its surrounding areas have been prohibited since mid-August amid a recent resurgence in new virus cases being largely linked to Protestant church gatherings. Exceptionally, services in large churches with more than 300 seats have been allowed attendances of below 20.

A consultative body of the government and seven religions, including Protestantism, Buddhism and Catholicism, recently discussed raising the in-person attendance ceiling of large churches, from the current 20 up to 50 starting this Sunday, according to officials familiar with the talks.

If the plan is confirmed, around 10-20 percent of nearly 25,000 Protestant churches in the Seoul metropolitan area would be subject to the eased restriction, officials added.

Starting from this week, South Korea lowered the nation's social distancing scheme from Level 2.5 down to Level 2 as the growth in the number of daily new virus cases, while still in the triple digit range, has shown a stable downward trajectory.

Yoido Full Gospel Church holds an online service on Sept. 13, 2020 in this photo provided by the church. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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