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Military to ease social distancing rules, offer booster shots to all troops

Defense 18:46 October 29, 2021

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military plans to ease its social distancing restrictions, including curbs on off-base trips, in phases and administer booster shots for all service members by early next year, the defense ministry said Friday.

Defense Minister Suh Wook finalized the plan at a video-linked meeting with top military commanders, as the government plans to enforce eased anti-COVID-19 rules starting next month for a gradual return to normal life.

Set to take effect Monday, the military's plan includes allowing troops to travel outside their bases on weekdays and enabling group training and educational activities currently restricted under quarantine rules.

Troops will be allowed to meet visitors regardless of their vaccination status as long as the visitors are fully vaccinated or present proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past 48 hours, while mask mandates remain intact.

The military also plans to first administer booster shots to some 3,000 medical workers at military hospitals next month and then to 500,000 other service members between January and February, the ministry said.

"The defense ministry will make best efforts to maintain a firm, unwavering combat readiness posture by thoroughly managing the COVID-19 quarantine while guaranteeing soldiers' basic rights," the ministry said in a press release.

The government plans to ease or lift a wide array of regulations starting next week under the "living with COVID-19" scheme, as more than 70 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Defense Minister Suh Wook speaks during a meeting with top commanders in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2021, in this photo released by the Ministry of National Defense. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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