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Covid: South Korea to extend social distancing rules in Seoul for 2 more weeks

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 23-07-2021 hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
a group of people walking in front of a building: According to rules, a gathering of three or more people is banned after 6pm, churches and nightclubs are shut. (AFP file photo) © Provided by Hindustan Times According to rules, a gathering of three or more people is banned after 6pm, churches and nightclubs are shut. (AFP file photo)

South Korea, which is currently battling its worst of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, said on Friday it will extend the ongoing social distancing rules imposed in its capital Seoul for two more weeks till August 8. The government, on July 12 imposed the highest level of social distancing restrictions (Level 4) in Seoul and neighbouring areas as the viral disease was spreading at a rapid pace.

According to rules, a gathering of three or more people is banned after 6pm, churches and nightclubs are shut, rallies are banned and only 49 people are allowed to attend marriages and funerals. Restaurants and cafes can remain open only till 10pm and sporting events are allowed without any spectators, a report by Xinhua News Agency said on Friday. Companies have been recommended to allow their employees to work from home while students are only allowed to attend online classes, the report added.

The above rules were set to end on Sunday, but interior and safety minister Jeon Hae-cheol said on Friday they will be in force for two more weeks. Jeon Hae-cheol added it is inevitable that social gatherings and travel are restricted to suppress a widespread domestic outbreak linked to a variety of sources in daily lives, according to the Associated Press.

The government on Friday has also warned South Korea’s main labour federation to cancel a planned rally amid apprehensions that it might become a super spreader event. Over 800 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) are expected to hold a rally in Wonju, a rural city about 100 kilometres east of Seoul, calling for a hike in wages and better welfare, Reuters reported.

“The government will respond sternly according to the law and principle if a banned rally is carried out in violation of anti-epidemic rules,” minister Jeon Hae-cheol said.

South Korea on Friday reported 1,630 new Covid-19 cases, which pushed the overall tally to 185,733 of which 2,066 people have succumbed to the viral disease. This is the seventeenth consecutive day that daily infections were above the 1,000-mark. Nearly 70 per cent of the recent cases have been seen in the Seoul area.

A major problem which the country is facing to combat the pandemic is a sluggish rate of vaccination. A little over 13 per cent of the total 52 million has been fully vaccinated till now and just over 30 per cent have been administered the first dose.

(With agency inputs)

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