|The government eased some restrictions on previously shuttered or scaled back businesses while maintaining its current social distancing measures as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the 500s for the fifth consecutive day, Friday. Yonhap|
The government eased some restrictions on previously shuttered or scaled back businesses while maintaining its current social distancing measures as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the 500s for the fifth consecutive day, Friday.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), the country added 580 more coronavirus infections, including 547 local ones, raising the total caseload to 71,820. The daily total marked a slight jump from 513 posted a day earlier.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced Saturday that the government will extend its current social distancing level for two weeks from Monday but ease business restrictions on cafes, gyms and certain other indoor facilities.
Under the new measures, the capital area will continue to enforce Level 2.5, the second highest in a five-tier system, and the rest of the nation will remain under Level 2.
The ban on private gatherings of five or more people, and the restriction on business operations after 9 p.m., will also be kept intact.
However, indoor gyms, cram schools and karaoke establishments will be allowed to reopen on the condition that they strictly adhere to antivirus measures.
Restrictions on cafes and houses of worship will also be eased in response to criticism that they are excessive, Chung said.
The third wave of the pandemic began in mid-November, pushing the daily infection count up to a peak of 1,241, Dec. 25, as the daily figure breached the 1,000 threshold multiple times.
To cope with the soaring number of cases, the health authorities adopted Level 2.5 measures in the greater Seoul area and Level 2 in other parts of the country Dec. 8.
There were 19 more deaths Friday, raising the total to 1,236, the KDCA said. (Yonhap)