Social-distancing rule to be raised in Seoul metropolitan area

South Korea on Tuesday decided to raise its five-tier social-distancing rule by one notch in the Seoul metropolitan area amid the Covid-19 resurgence in and around the capital city.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters that the area with more than half of the country’s total population was facing a serious Covid-19 situation, Xinhua news agency reported.

Chung noted that the daily average number of confirmed cases topped 100 in the area for the past week.

In the latest tally, South Korea reported 230 new cases for the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 28,998.

The daily caseload stayed above 200 for four straight days, growing in triple digits for 10 days running.

The government’s five-tier social-distancing guidelines will be raised from the lowest Level 1 to Level 1.5 beginning on Thursday.

Under Level 1, people are required to follow basic quarantine rules, such as wearing masks.

Under Level 1.5, restrictions are imposed on the operation of high-risk facilities, while gatherings are limited.

Priority facilities, including nightclubs, karaoke bars, restaurants, cafes, standing concert halls, and direct sales facility, will face the restriction on their maximum capacity to one person per four square meters.

Limited capacity and a two-meter distance between seats will be required at regular facilities, such as concert halls, movie theatres, indoor sports facility, private cram schools, internet cafes, study rooms, public bath-houses, wedding halls, funeral homes, hair salons, amusement park, department stores and discount outlets.

The gathering of over 500 people will be allowed when it is reported to the local authorities and held in line with social-distancing rules, while the gathering of more than 100 people will be banned in some events such as festivals.

The spectator capacity for sports events will be restricted to 30 per cent, while worship services in religious facilities will be allowed to fill up to 30 per cent of seats.

The attendance cap in schools will be placed at two-thirds of the total students, while employees in companies will be advised to work at home.