South Korea eases social distancing curbs amid COVID-19 downtrend

SEOUL: South Korea said on Sunday (Oct 11) it will begin social distancing rules on Monday, allowing the reopening of nightly entertainment facilities and sports fixtures, as new coronavirus cases have been edging lower in recent weeks.

Daily infections of the virus that causes COVID-19 have largely been in the double digits over the past two weeks, down from as many as 441 during outbreaks linked to a church and a political rally in August. Those prompted authorities to tighten curbs on gatherings and some businesses.

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The eased rules mean entertainment facilities such as nightclubs and karaoke bars can reopen and limited audiences will be allowed at sports matches such as the popular Korea Baseball Organization League, as long as they comply with anti-virus guidelines.

But some stricter rules will be kept in the heavily populated Seoul area and high-risk venues including religious gatherings and door-to-door sales businesses, the government said.

“We will lower the level of social distancing nationwide but maintain the controls on risk factors such as the door-to-door sales industry,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting.

“Many citizens are feeling fatigue over prolonged distancing, and we also took its negative impact on the economy into consideration.”

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The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 58 cases as of Saturday midnight, bringing total infections to 24,606, with 432 deaths.

Of the new cases, 46 were domestically transmitted, mostly from greater Seoul, where small clusters continue to emerge from churches, door-to-door sales firms and medical institutions.

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