South Korea relaxes business restrictions, extends distancing measures

Seoul, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- The South Korean government decided Saturday to extend social distancing measures for two weeks, but relaxed business restrictions on account of an apparent stabilization of Covid-19 infections in the country.

The South Korean government maintained the current level of alert in the capital region, the second highest possible, while the rest of the country will remain at a lower level.

As of Monday, the current ban on meetings of more than four people who do not share a home will be extended for two more weeks, and the restriction of business opening hours until 9 pm will be maintained.

However, authorities will allow the reopening of establishments that until now were forced to close, such as cafes, gyms and karaoke establishments, although with the same time restrictions as other businesses and limitations on capacity.

The government made the decision after weighing stricter anti-virus actions to restore normal life as soon as possible and taking into account the suffering of small businesses, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said after a meeting of national authorities.

In addition, restrictions on places of worship, applied after the focus of some of the largest outbreaks in South Korea were detected there, will be relaxed and will be allowed to hold congregations one day a week with limited capacity.

Chung also noted that the effects of the restrictions will be reinforced by the introduction of new treatments and vaccines against Covid-19 scheduled for next month.

South Korea reported 580 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, which is the fifth consecutive day below 600, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The country has been experiencing its third and largest wave of infections since the end of November, although since the beginning of January there has been a downward trend.

In addition, at the end of December, the South Korean authorities detected the first cases of people infected with the new variant of SAR-COV-2 in people arriving from the United Kingdom.

South Korea has accumulated 71,820 infections in total, with 1,236 deaths, which represents a mortality rate of 1.72 percent. EFE-EPA


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