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(LEAD) Vaccine pass enforcement at cram schools, study rooms suspended

National 20:03 January 04, 2022

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS more info throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday suspended the vaccine pass mandate for cram schools and other private education facilities following a court ruling that the system infringes on people's right to learn.

The Seoul Administrative Court ordered the suspension of a rule that requires adults to show proof of vaccination before accessing private institutes, public study rooms, study cafes and vocational training institutions, pending a trial on a complaint that parents and the industry have filed against the measure.

A notice on vaccine pass requirement is removed from a study cafe in Seoul on Jan. 4, 2022, after the Seoul Administrative Court suspended its enforcement for private educational facilities. (Yonhap)

Groups of parents and private institute owners filed the case last month, claiming that vaccine pass mandate infringes on students' freedom and learning rights.

The court said the measure essentially amounts to "effectively limiting the rights (of unvaccinated people) to use cram schools and study facilities."

Since there are a considerable number of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people, the court added that it does not see unvaccinated people as posing a substantial risk that is sufficient to limit their use of facilities.

The government said it regrets the court's decision and will appeal the ruling, stressing that the vaccine pass is needed for the protection of the unvaccinated and the country's medical response system.

The government plans to expand the vaccine pass mandate to include teenagers in March, drawing protests from parents who argue the measure amounts to forcing vaccination upon minors.

The plan was announced in early December along with other toughened gathering restrictions amid the latest virus resurgence and a pileup of student infections.

The expansion of the vaccine pass scheme was originally scheduled for February. But in the face of a strong backlash, the government decided to implement the policy in March after a one-month grace period.

A parent holds her child as part of a rally at the government complex in Sejong, central South Korea, on Dec. 9, 2021, to demand the government withdraw its plan to expand the COVID-19 vaccine pass system to teenagers. The system requires them to present COVID-19 vaccination or negative test certificates at multiuse facilities, including public study rooms and cram schools, a measure that critics say amounts to forcing people to get vaccinated. (Yonhap)


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