S.Korea expands social distancing rules

The South Korean government announced on Saturday said that it has decided to expand strict social distancing guidelines to the rest of the country from Sunday amid the recent surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a press briefing that the guidelines will be raised by one notch to Level 2 across the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

The government had imposed the Level 2 guidelines of the three-tier system only in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province from August 16, but it decided to expand it to the whole country amid the recent surge in virus infections.

South Korea reported 332 more cases on Saturday, raising the combined number of infections to 17,002.

The daily caseload soared in triple digits for nine straight days, topping 300 for two days in a row. It was the highest in more than five months since March 8.

The number of confirmed cases for the past nine days reached 2,232 due to clusters in the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul and a massive rally held in the capital city on August 15 by conservative voters and politicians.

Of the new cases, 127 were Seoul residents and 91 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.

Under the Level 2 social-distancing guidelines, the indoor gatherings of over 50 people and the outdoor events of over 100 people will be banned, while high-risk facilities such as karaoke rooms, clubs and PC gaming cafes will be prohibited from doing businesses.

All sporting events will be conducted without an audience, and offline church services will be banned.

Schools in areas that reported cluster infections will be required to switch to online classes from August 26.

School attendance will be limited to one-third of capacity in kindergartens, primary and middle schools.

Crowded places will be required to follow tighter regulations, including the recording of all visitors.

All beaches across the country will be closed from Saturday midnight.