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Gov't Extends Strengthened Social Distancing by Another Week

#Hot Issues of the Week l 2020-09-06



The government has decided to extend strengthened social-distancing measures in the greater Seoul area by a week until September 13.

Social-distancing measures that had been in place nationwide will also be extended by two more weeks, Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters on Friday.

"Dear citizens, we need social distancing efforts for a little bit longer. The nationwide Level Two social distancing rules and the strengthened Level Two measures in the Seoul metro area were to end on September 6, initially. However, it is necessary to extend the measures until daily infections show a clear decline in order to restore our quarantine capabilities and secure the medical treatment capacity. As we launch social distancing measures despite inconveniences in our daily routine and economic damage, we must have sure quarantine results this time."

The decision comes as officials remain wary of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the capital region and also reflects the government's firm resolve to cap further increases in infections, according to the health minister.

"It is too early to allow relief. The daily new infections in the Seoul metro area continue to post triple-digit figures for more than 20 days and the spread continues outside of the Seoul metro area. The infection trends also show that mass transmissions are occuring in areas enmeshed to our daily routines, including restaurants, cafes, indoor sports facilities and small group gatherings. Among the newly infected patients over the last two weeks, untraceable transmissions reached more than 20 percent, showing how much our quarantine grid has been weakened."

Due to the extension of strengthened social-distancing measures, restaurants cannot serve customers after 9 p.m., while franchise coffee shops, private educational institutes and indoor sports facilities have been ordered to serve only take-out customers or only offer online services.

This time, bakeries and ice cream stores have also been added to the list of businesses that can only serve take-out customers.

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