Seoul, Nov 22 (efe-epa).- South Korea will strengthen social distancing measures in the region around the capital city Seoul, officials announced Sunday, amid a spike of new Covid-19 cases.
From Tuesday, Seoul, the surrounding province of Gyeonggi and the neighboring city of Incheon, an area that is home to some 26 million people – more than half of the nation’s population – will enter level 2 of social distancing, the third of a total of 5 tiers.
Level 2 bans gatherings of more than 100 people, closes nightlife venues, and forces restaurants to stop serving customers on the premises from 9 pm, with only take-out or home delivery orders allowed after the cutoff.
Cafes can also only receive take-away orders, while sports stadiums will only be allowed to operate at 10 percent capacity.
South Korea reported 302 new cases on Sunday, 219 of which were in the capital region.
The number of daily cases in South Korea has remained in the triple digits since November 8 and has been over 300 for five consecutive days, levels apparently linked to the fact that people are spending more time indoors with the onset of winter and drop in temperatures.
In the last week, the average number of daily cases in the capital region, which has been at restriction level 1.5 out of 5 since Thursday, has doubled compared to the previous seven days, reaching 175.1 infections.
Although the figure still does not reach the 200 daily cases on average that the government specifies in its criteria to apply level 2 restrictions, the authorities have acted in order to protect students taking the highly competitive college entrance examination on December 3.
Almost half a million students will take the test this year, which is considered a national priority.
The authorities have also decided to apply level 1.5 (which applies capacity limits to bars and restaurants) for at least two weeks to South Jeolla and North Jeolla provinces in the southeast of the country, due to rising infection rates in those regions, whose population totals more than 3.5 million.