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S. Korea enforces enhanced virus curbs for upcoming holidays

Welfare/Medicine 08:38 September 28, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Monday started to implement an enhanced social distancing scheme for upcoming holidays to better curb the nationwide spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government has designated Monday to Oct. 11 as a special period for strengthened virus curbs as many people are expected to travel during the Chuseok holiday, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday.

The country also has a three-day break from Oct. 9 to 11, when Hangeul Day, which celebrates the Korean alphabet, is combined with the weekend.

Health authorities have been urging people to stay home over the holidays, but to better contain local transmissions of COVID-19, they unveiled more tailored guidelines last week under the Level 2 distancing in the country's three-tier social distancing scheme.

Test-takers walk in two lines to comply with social distancing guidelines before entering a venue for an exam for public servants in western Seoul on Sept. 26, 2020. (Yonhap)

All core measures of the Level 2 distancing are maintained across the country, meaning indoor gatherings of 50 or more people are banned, and outdoor meetings of 100 or more people are also prohibited.

Sports events are allowed without spectators, while multipurpose facilities, such as public bathhouses and small cram schools, can open if they comply with core virus prevention measures, such as wearing masks and keeping entry logs.

In the government's latest measures, the operation of 11 types of "high-risk" facilities, including clubs, bars and buffets, in the densely populated Seoul area, are suspended for the special two-week virus fight period.

Enhanced quarantine measures are also applied at restaurants and theaters in Seoul and the surrounding areas during the holiday.

Restaurants, cafes and bakeries that have 20 seats or more must maintain a distance of at least 1 meter between tables. If not, they must come up with other measures, such as installing sneeze guard between tables or making enough empty seats.

This file photo taken Sept. 20, 2020, shows benches with social distancing signs placed on them at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Theaters and cinemas in the greater Seoul area are required to leave middle seats empty, while amusement parks are ordered to cut the daily number of admissions.

Outside the capital region, five types of risk-prone facilities are required to shut down between Monday and Sunday.

Some of the virus prevention measures are lifted during the special two-week virus fight period.

State-run cultural facilities are closed in the Level 2 distancing, but during the holiday, they will be opened under the condition they offer entry to a limited number of people.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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