Coronavirus: South Korea Limits Private Gatherings to Four People

Coronavirus: South Korea Limits Private Gatherings to Four People

South Korea announced Thursday plans to limit private gatherings in the country to four people from December 18 to January 2 in an effort to curb transmission of the Chinese coronavirus during the winter holiday season.

“South Korea will reduce the maximum private gathering size to four people nationwide and restore a 9:00 p.m. curfew on restaurant and cafe business hours,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told reporters during a government meeting at South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters in Seoul on December 16.

South Korean government authorities will begin enforcing the strict anti-virus protocol on December 18. Only individuals fully vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus will be allowed to gather privately in groups of four or less over the next two weeks, Kim said. The stipulation suggests unvaccinated people are expected not to gather privately at all.

“Under the new measures … the use of restaurants and cafes will be restricted to up to four vaccinated people per visit,” the prime minister said.

(3rd LD) S. Korea to reduce private gathering size to 4, restore 9 p.m. business curfew: PM https://t.co/sWrHxjCN9k

— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) December 16, 2021

“Those who have not been vaccinated [against the Chinese coronavirus] will be able to use the facilities alone or request take-out or delivery,” he added.

“Bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues will also be subject to the 9:00 p.m. curfew while movie theaters, concert halls, and internet cafes, however, will be able to operate until 10:00 p.m.,” Kim said.

South Korea’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures team decided to tighten restrictions on gathering for the next two weeks because the country is facing a “virus crisis,” according to Kim.

South Korean health officials have logged record-high daily tallies of new Chinese coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, with the national caseload reaching an all-time high of 7,850 on December 14.

“[T]he number of COVID-19 fatalities hit an all-time high of 94 on Tuesday [December 14],” according to Yonhap news agency.

“More than 92 percent of South Korean adults are fully vaccinated, but the number of new cases has surged nearly five-fold since … [previous social distancing] rules were eased last month, while the number of serious cases has tripled,” Reuters observed on December 16.

South Korea announced its new two-week virus crackdown just six weeks into a “living with Covid [Chinese coronavirus]” scheme which saw the federal government ease previous pandemic curbs on gathering sizes and restaurant hours. The now-scrapped policy placed no limits on businesses’ opening hours and “allowed gatherings of up to eight people regardless of their vaccination status,” Reuters recalled on Thursday.

Gabrielle Reyes