COVID-19: South Korea eases social distancing for two weeks ahead of major holiday

SEOUL: South Korea on Sunday (Sep 13) eased its tough social distancing policy for the next two weeks in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, with new daily novel coronavirus cases hovering stubbornly within triple digits.

The government has lifted a ban on onsite dining after 9pm though it still requires restaurants and cafes to restrict seating and record patrons' names and contact details.

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While leisure facilities such as gyms and Internet cafes are also allowed to reopen, under so-called phase two restrictions, indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100, while spectators are banned from sporting events.

A man wakeboards amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at a Han River park in Seoul, South Korea, Sep 10, 2020. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Health authorities said the easing would contribute toward a reopening of the economy, before returning to tougher guidelines for two weeks again from Sep 28 during the Chuseok holiday.

"After a comprehensive review of the recent situation and expert opinion, the government intends to adjust social distancing to phase two in the Seoul area for two weeks," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a televised meeting of government officials.

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Infection numbers fell steadily to the low 100s after the government imposed unprecedented social distancing curbs in late August, but surged last week as small clusters emerged.

READ: Commentary: South Korea had COVID-19 under control. And then August happened

READ: South Korea's defiant churches face backlash for hampering COVID-19 response

"The number of daily infections is still not dropping to double-digits and it isn't yet a situation where measureRead More – Source

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