SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- With slightly more than one day left before the start of the three-day Chuseok holiday, local governments nationwide are on extra high alert due to fears that the holidays may create conditions for an influx of the coronavirus from outside visitors.
In recent weeks, provincial and municipal authorities have stepped up social distancing and advised against hometown visits or travel during the Chuseok holiday beginning Wednesday. South Koreans will enjoy five days off this week, as the holiday period also includes the National Foundation Day.
The authorities are particularly unnerved by a constant stream of cluster infections throughout the country and instances of untraceable COVID-19 infections.
All provincial and municipal governments are to enforce Level 2 social distancing measures in the country's three-tier distancing scheme, after the central government on Monday declared the coming two weeks until Oct. 11 as a special quarantine period. Under Level 2 guidelines, indoor gatherings of 50 or more people and outdoor meetings of 100 or more people are banned.
All local governments will maintain no-assembly administrative orders for all high-risk facilities, including clubs, bars and door-to-door sales promotion centers.
Other virus-prone facilities, which are now allowed to operate on a limited basis, will be forced to close if any infection is reported from them.
Some local governments, including those of Busan and Sejong, have decided to temporarily close their enshrinement and cemetery facilities during the Chuseok holiday, asking citizens to conduct their ancestral rites online.
In principle, all local governments will ban face-to-face meetings at nursing facilities for elderly patients and nursing hospitals during Chuseok.
Most cultural and sports facilities will be closed during the holiday and public institutions will refrain from organizing Chuseok celebration events and gatherings of any size.
Local governments will also operate 24-hour emergency situation rooms to respond swiftly to any outbreak of coronavirus, while strengthening quarantine and disinfection efforts for bus and train terminals, airports, ports and popular tourist destinations.
"It is feared that the Chuseok holiday may become an important turning point in authorities' fight against COVID-19," a quarantine official in Busan said.
"Local governments have mapped out various quarantine measures so citizens are required to refrain from travel and stay home as much as possible during Chuseok," the official said.