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Coronavirus

Virus Rules in Seoul Extended Another Month

September 3, 2021

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea will extend coronavirus restrictions in the greater capital area for at least another month as the nation grapples with its worst surge a few weeks before its biggest holiday of the year.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol on Friday acknowledged the prolonged virus restrictions were hurting livelihoods but said the pace of transmissions was too “dangerous” for officials to consider easing distancing measures.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 1,709 new cases of virus infection, the 59th consecutive day of over 1,000. Only 38% of the population of more than 51 million is fully vaccinated.

The Level 4 rules enforced in Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas are the highest level short of a lockdown and prohibit private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m.

But Kwon said the limit will be raised to six people if at least four of them are fully vaccinated, providing some flexibility to address economic concerns and pandemic fatigue. All indoor dining at restaurants and cafes will be banned after 10 p.m.

Officials also worry the outbreak would worsen during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving, when millions usually travel across the country to meet relatives. The holiday falls on Sept. 21.

Kwon said officials will limit occupancy in trains and passenger vessels during the holiday period.

MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— With ICUs at Idaho hospital full, doctors brace for need to conserve resources for patients most likely to survive

— Kim orders tougher epidemic prevention after North Korea turned down some vaccines

— Britain sends Australia 4 million Pfizer doses in swap as it copes with delta surge

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