© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman skates on a shopping street amid strict social distancing rules due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, on July 12, 2021. REUTERS / Heo Ran / File Photo
By Sangmi Cha
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Friday it will lift strict coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a strategy of “ living with COVID-19 ” amid the increased vaccination levels.
A new panel established this week is working out a plan for a gradual return to normality https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/skorea-planning-live-more-normally-with-covid-19-after -October-2021-09-08 in the long term, eventually lifting radical restrictions and reopening the economy in November with the expectation that 80% of the adult population will be fully vaccinated.
Starting Monday, the government will allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and will ease operating hours restrictions imposed in places like restaurants, cafes and movie theaters, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said at a COVID-19 response meeting. .
In the Seoul area, gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed if a group includes four fully vaccinated people, and in other regions, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather.
South Korea never imposed a total lockdown, but it has been under its strictest social distancing restrictions, including a limit on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. since July, when the fourth wave of infections began.
The relaxation will also allow outdoor sporting events to be held in front of crowds, rather than behind closed doors as today, if 30% of all spectators are fully vaccinated, said Lee Ki-il, vice minister of policy for medical care, in an information session. .
“Over the last year and eight months, everyone has done everything possible to find light at the end of a long tunnel, the pandemic, and the ray of light is coming,” said Prime Minister Kim.
“The rest of October, with a fortnight remaining, will be the final test to take a step towards restored routines.”
The new social distancing rules will be in effect until October. On December 31, after which authorities will announce a more inclusive strategy for small businesses and the self-employed, hit hard by the curbs.
South Korea reported 1,684 new COVID-19 cases by Thursday, bringing its cumulative count to 339,361 infections with 2,626 deaths. It has fully vaccinated 62.5% of its 52 million inhabitants and given at least one dose of a 78.4% vaccine.
The country began this month by offering reinforcements https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/skorea-vaccinate-12-17-year-olds-give-boosters-elderly-2021-09-27 for those with weakened Immune systems or considered high risk: the elderly, patients and staff of nursing homes.
President Moon Jae-in, 68, received his booster shot from Pfizer / BioNTech on Friday, six months after his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 in April.
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