Restrictions eased in Seoul amid declining COVID-19 cases

Seoul, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- Restrictions imposed on restaurants, cafes and bakeries in the South Korean capital region were lifted on Monday amid a decline in coronavirus infections.

From Monday, restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes in the cities of Seoul and Incheon and the surrounding Gyeonggi province will be able to remain open until after 9 pm and coffee shops and bakeries will be able to allow customers to eat and drink inside.

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the capital region, where some 26 million people – half of South Korea’s population – live, the authorities imposed a number of restrictions on restaurants, bars and cafes on Aug. 30 for a week to contain the spread of the virus.

The measure, which only allowed takeout and delivery at restaurants between 9 pm and 5 am – cafes and bakeries were only allowed to offer takeaway to customers – was extended by another week to ensure a slowing down of the rate of new infections.

Thus, the capital region was once again placed under Level 2 – in the three-tier system – social distancing measures, which have been in place in the rest of the country since cases began to multiply on Aug. 15.

On Aug. 27, the Asian country reported 441 new cases in one day, the highest figure since March.

Although the figure has gradually fallen since then and the authorities have lifted restrictions around Seoul, senior Health Ministry official and head of disinfection, Yoon Tae-ho, at a press conference on Monday urged citizens not to lower their guard.

South Korea reported 109 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, of which 98 were local cases, 81 of them in the capital region.

The country has been widely praised as one of the countries that has best controlled the pandemic so far thanks to its comprehensive contact tracing system.

Since the start of the epidemic, it has recorded a total of 22,285 coronavirus cases and 363 deaths for a fatality rate of 1.6 percent. EFE-EPA


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