President Moon Jae-in says the decision to ease social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area aims to strike a balance between defending against COVID-19 and safeguarding the economy.
Speaking at a meeting with his secretaries on Monday, Moon sought public understanding on the move, calling it an inevitable measure to keep strict quarantine measures in place, while minimizing the economic impact of the pandemic.
He said the tougher measures in the past two weeks were effective in curtailing daily infections in the capital region and lowering the basic reproduction number of virus infections to around zero-point-seven.
However, the president said the fight against COVID-19 will be protracted and added that the government cannot ignore the economy as the nation has to live with the pandemic for an extended period of time.
The government enforced eased social distancing measures for the Seoul metropolitan area from Monday following 14 days of so-called Level Two-point-Five guidelines that were put in place after the area emerged as the epicenter of a resurgence in the nation.