South Korea begins fining citizens for not wearing masks in public

Seoul, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- South Korea began Friday to impose fines of 100,000 won (about $90) on anyone who does not wear a mask in public to stop the expansion of the coronavirus, as the country reported its highest number of daily cases in 70 days.

In cities such as Seoul, public officials appeared Friday at the busiest bus and subway stops and in some public buildings and establishments such as coffee shops to remind people of the mandatory and correct use of the mask.

Minors under 14 and those who show that due to health problems cannot wear masks are exempt from the fines.

It is also allowed not to wear a mask if you are walking or exercising in parks as long as the safety distance is respected.

On the other hand, establishments that do not inform customers of the obligation to keep the mask on when not eating or drinking will be fined 1.5 million won ($1,348) and 3 million ($2,695) if the offense is repeated.

The rule went into effect as South Korea reported 191 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the highest number since Sep. 4.

Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said that if this trend continues, authorities will be forced to tighten the current level of social distancing, which in most of the country is at step 1, the most permissive of all.

The Asian country recently announced a revision of this scale, which now has five levels designed to try to stop contagion by damaging the economy as little as possible.

Thanks to its comprehensive contact tracing system, its good testing capacity and its comprehensive hospitalization scheme, South Korea is one of the countries that has best handled the pandemic so far.

So far there are just over 24,000 infected and 487 deaths from COVID-19. EFE-EPA


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