|Park Yoo-mi from the Seoul Metropolitan Government speaks during a press briefing at City Hall, Wednesday. She explained the city's quarantine measures for the Halloween weekend. Yonhap|
By Kim Se-jeong
Popular night clubs and bars in Seoul will voluntarily close their businesses during the upcoming Halloween weekend, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to club owners and city government officials Wednesday.
According to announcements from clubs in Itaewon and other entertainment districts, "To prevent the spread of the virus on Halloween, we decided to keep our business shut from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3."
Halloween, a popular American and Canadian holiday, has seen increased popularity in Korea in recent years, with clubs and bars packed with costumed revelers for what is the biggest fancy dress party of the year.
Among those that will stay closed will be a club located in Itaewon that was connected to a mass COVID-19 outbreak in May. "The government recommended us to stay closed and we decided to respect the recommendation," the owner was quoted as saying by a local media outlet.
It's unclear exactly how many clubs have joined the voluntary Halloween shutdown. Already, clubs and bars have been under tight scrutiny as high-risk spots and have been required to employ procedures to check customers for fever and collect their personal details.
Expressing concern of another outbreak, the government recommended people stay home this year.
"People are expected to gather in the city's downtown and nightclubs. We see a big danger of another outbreak because these outlets are often closed spaces packed with people. We sincerely recommend you to avoid these places on Halloween. Also we hope the business owners will respect quarantine rules," Yoon Tae-ho from the Central Disease Control Headquarters said during a daily briefing, Wednesday.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Wednesday that it will conduct special quarantine inspections on the city's bars and clubs from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3.
Also, the city government said it identified 108 outlets that it claims are "high risk" and will assign two officials to each to ensure that they respect quarantine rules. In addition, the city will install a checkpoint in the street behind Itaewon's Hamilton Hotel during this period for checking people's temperature, collecting personal details and providing personal disinfection.
Korea reported 103 new cases of COVID-19 detected on Tuesday, pushing up the total number of cases to 26,146. Among the new cases, 96 were domestic, while seven involved people arriving from overseas. The death toll stands at 461 with no fatalities reported Tuesday.
Yoon said migrant workers and visitors to medical institutes are particularly vulnerable to infection and that the government will run special quarantine inspections to help them.
He also said the government will disclose new social distancing guidelines on Sunday. The government has vowed to reflect these concerns and complaints about the current social distancing rules, for failing to maintain economic activity.
The government has stated it will also hand out discount coupons for tourists in an effort to help the domestic tourism industry. The coupons will be available from Friday and users can enjoy up to 30 percent discounts on their accommodations, restaurants and tour packages.