South Korea expands social distancing rules nationwide

Seoul, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The South Korean government on Saturday said it would extend Level 2 social-distancing measures, currently in place in Seoul and its surroundings, to the rest of the country due to an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The new guidelines will be applicable from Sunday onwards.

The level 2 restriction on the scale of three entails the closure of public spaces and sports stadiums, and the reduction of students in classrooms to one-third of the capacity in kindergartens, elementary and middle schools and two-thirds in high schools.

The government asked the schools in the areas with clusters of infections to switch to all online instruction from Wednesday onwards.

Under the new guidelines, the government has also ordered the closure of clubs, cafes and karaoke rooms as well as the cancellation of religious services on Sundays.

The authorities have also banned indoor gatherings involving more than 50 people. For outdoor events, gatherings with more than 100 people are strictly prohibited.

All beaches across the country will be closed from Saturday midnight.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said the country stood at “a critical juncture of a national epidemic of Covid-19.”

The government announced the tighter restrictions as South Korea’s daily new virus cases exceeded 300 again on Saturday.

The health authorities reported infections in all major cities and provinces.

The 332 fresh Covid-19 cases included 315 local infections. The country now carries the total caseload of more than 17,000, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The authorities also said that it was for the first time since the first case reported on Jan. 20 that they had recorded infections in all of the country’s 17 major cities and provinces, according to Yonhap news agency.

Seoul reported 127 new local infections, followed by 91 in the neighboring Gyeonggi Province and 21 in Incheon.

The measures announced were originally imposed in South Korea when the coronavirus pandemic began affecting the East Asian country.

The restrictions were relaxed but later restored in Seoul and its surroundings in the middle of this month. EFE-EPA


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