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Seoul to seal off cherry blossom hot spots over COVID-19 fears

All News 09:00 March 27, 2021

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Popular places to see cherry blossoms in Seoul will be mostly off limits to the public this year, as municipal authorities are striving to deter gatherings due to fears of COVID-19 transmissions.

Cherry blossoms, one of the most beloved spring flowers in South Korea, are expected to reach peak bloom in the capital in early April, drawing crowds of picnickers. Due to coronavirus fears, however, authorities are determined to close the city's cherry blossom hot spots or impose caps on the number of visitors.

The southwestern Seoul ward of Yeongdeungpo said it will enforce temporary traffic control in parts of Yeouido, which boasts one of the capital's most popular cherry blossom streets with its 1.7 kilometer-long white flower tunnel.

This file photo taken on April 6, 2020, shows a cherry blossom street in Seoul's Yeouido district amid a traffic control enforced to stem the spread of COVID-19. (Yonhap)

The road traffic control will take effect in the cherry blossom tunnel section of the Yeouiseo-ro street, just behind the National Assembly building, from April 1-12, to coincide with the full blooming of the cherry blossoms. Pedestrian traffic control will begin on April 2, ward officials said. A similar traffic control was enforced there last year for the same reason.

The ward office plans to select about 3,500 people by lottery from applicants for its cherry blossom viewing program to give them an opportunity to stroll on the Yeouido cherry blossom street. Under the program, groups of 99 lottery winners and officials will be allowed to enter the cherry blossom street at intervals of one and a half hours from April 5-11 after promising to abide by the social distancing rules.

Those who do not win the lottery will be able to enjoy Yeouido's cherry blossoms through a website (https://blossom.or.kr/), which the Yeongdeungpo Ward will soon open in cooperation with a private company specializing in realistic content.

This file photo taken on March 29, 2020, shows Seokchon Lake Park temporarily closed to deter gatherings of picnickers wanting to see cherry blossoms. (Yonhap)

Amid the lingering COVID-19 fears, Seoul's many other cherry blossom hot spots, including Seokchon Lake Park in the southeastern district of Songpa, will be closed to visitors, officials said.

The Songpa Ward office said it will block the entry to Seokchon Lake Park from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. the following day from April 1-11, in time for the full blooming of cherry blossoms there.

It will only open some access roads to the lake park to nearby residents going to work or taking a walk from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. during the period.

The ward asks citizens to see this year's cherry blossoms at Seokchon Lake Park through its YouTube channel "Songpa TV."

ycm@yna.co.kr
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