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Military bans troops from vacationing, off-base trips over resurgent virus

All News 09:42 November 27, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- The military began enforcing a tighter social distancing scheme on Friday banning troops from vacationing and taking off-installation trips as it is striving to stem the spread of the new coronavirus at barracks.

Under the Level 2.5 social distancing guidance at barracks, all service members are not allowed to leave their bases for the next two weeks.

Officers are restricted from having private meetings, while in-person religious gatherings and business trips are also banned.

As for drills, necessary outdoor trainings will be conducted in a way to minimize contact with civilians, while indoor programs are to be limited, according to the defense ministry.

It is far tougher than the current nationwide social distancing level, as the government has enforced Level 2 rules in the greater Seoul area since earlier this week, and most other regions are at lower levels. South Korea has a five-tier social distancing system from Level 1 to 3.

The stronger rules for service members came as the worst ever cluster infection among the military population broke out this week.

Since Wednesday, 66 newly enlisted soldiers and four officers have been confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 at an Army boot camp in the central border town of Yeoncheon.

Virus tests for those at the camp and those who came into contact with them are still under way, according to a ministry official.

The total number of infections reported among the military population came to 342 as of Thursday, according to the defense ministry. The figure has grown sharply since mid-November.

A worker enters an Army boot camp in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 26, 2020, to transport COVID-19 patients among the unit members. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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