South Korean officials announced Friday that they would lift strict pandemic restrictions on social gatherings starting next week after several months of these restrictions. This comes as the country prepares for a pivot to a Covid strategy, where more than 60% of its population is fully vaccinated.
To stop the spread of coronavirus, people wearing masks walk out of a station in Seoul, South Korea. ASSOCIATED PRNS
The Key Facts
Authorities will allow up to four people to gather and relax the opening hours restrictions for businesses such as restaurants, cafes, and movie theatres. Yonhap News reports that South Korea will begin next month to live with the Covid-19 strategy. The virus will be treated in the same way as other respiratory infections such as seasonal influenza. Kim Boo-kyum, the Prime Minister, announced the removal of restrictions that had been in place since July's fourth wave. He said that he hopes this will be the final adjustment to social distancing rules until November when normalcy returns. This week, a government panel was established to prepare a reopening strategy for November. It is expected that 80% of the country's adult population will have been fully vaccinated.
62.5%. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, (KDCA), this is the total number of South Koreans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. A total of 78.4% have received at least one dose.
The South Korean government set up a panel earlier this week to develop a reopening plan for the country in order to eliminate all Covid-related restrictions. The government will allow citizens who have been fully vaccinated to relax their restrictions under the Living with Covid strategy. People below 70 years old who are suffering from mild or no symptoms will be allowed to recuperate at home. While South Korea did not put itself under total lockdown during the pandemic, it has placed strict restrictions on social gatherings. Since July, when South Korea was struck by its fourth wave infections, restaurants, cafes and saunas in the country have had to restrict their hours and events with more than two people have been banned around Seoul's capital. The total number of Covid deaths in the country has remained at 2,626 after extensive testing, tracing, and mask compliance.
Apart from South Korea and Japan, many other countries have adopted the "living with the virus" approach to containing the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19. As Australia aims to reach its goal of 80% vaccination, it is working to eliminate most of its restrictions on pandemics. Singapore, which has more than 80% coverage, is also preparing to eliminate all restrictions on pandemics. However, it will continue to quarantine people who are positive in its government facilities. Similar steps were taken by the U.K., where more than 65% have been fully vaccinated.
New viruses slow down. We have relaxed distancing rules for 2 weeks (Yonhap).
South Korea plans to live'more normally' after COVID-19 (Reuters)
Live updates and coverage of the Coronavirus