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(LEAD) PM Chung renews warnings against illicit Oct. 3 rallies amid virus fight

Welfare/Medicine 16:46 September 27, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 6-8)

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun renewed warnings Sunday against illegal anti-government rallies planned by some conservative groups, amid worries that the mass gatherings could undercut the nation's fight against the new coronavirus.

During a session of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, Chung vowed to take a zero-tolerance policy against any unsanctioned demonstrations on the Oct. 3 National Foundation Day, warning illegal participants will face immediate arrests.

Regarding the possibility of "drive-through" rallies, the prime minister said demonstrators using their cars could have their driver's licenses suspended.

"The government will sternly respond to all illegal rallies that take place on National Foundation Day for the sake of our community's safety," Chung said.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a session of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in Seoul on Sept. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

Touching on the concerns that the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic could loosen during the Chuseok autumn harvest holiday set to begin Wednesday, Chung urged citizens to refrain from face-to-face family reunions.

In a separate address to the nation later, Chung made an appeal for citizens to refrain from traveling to their hometowns during the holiday to ensure the safety of their parents and elderly relatives.

"We should not forget that we are in a quasi-war situation," Chung said.

"Practicing social distancing that you have done well so far is the best way to ensure the health and safety of the elderly ... Please think that not visiting your parents this year is the way for filial piety," he added.

On Sunday, South Korea's health authorities reported 95 additional COVID-19 cases, with the daily figure staying below 100 for the second straight day.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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