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Panmunjom tours to remain in operation despite toughened social distancing scheme

All News 11:09 November 24, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- A recently resumed tour program to the truce village of Panmunjom will remain in operation despite this week's toughened social distancing measures against the coronavirus, as necessary preventive steps have already been enforced, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.

The tours to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas resumed earlier this month after more than a year of suspension due to the outbreak of African swine fever. The maximum number of people allowed to visit the area, however, was halved as part of preventive efforts against COVID-19.

Some have raised the need to further scale down or adjust the tour program as the government raised the social distancing level by one notch to Level 2 on Tuesday in the face of recent spikes in coronavirus cases.

"We have already adjusted the number of people (allowed to visit the area) by half when we resumed the tours," the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "There appears to be no tour courses that need to be adjusted since most places (people visit) are outdoors."

The official, however, said the tours could be suspended again if the social distancing level is raised to the highest Level 3, two notches up from the current level, saying that the ministry will closely monitor the overall coronavirus situation.

On Tuesday, South Korea added 349 more COVID-19 cases, including 320 local infections, raising the total caseload to 31,353, according to health authorities. The daily figure has stayed in the triple digits since Nov. 8.

A group of people, including journalists, visits the truce village of Panmunjom, in this photo provided by Press Corps on Nov. 4, 2020, as a tour program resumed after more than a year of suspension due to African swine fever.


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