The government will tighten gathering restrictions and expand entry passes in a bid to curb the latest COVID-19 resurgence and prevent a further spread of the new omicron variant.
Health authorities announced measures on Friday restricting private gatherings in the capital region including Incheon and the Gyeonggi Province to six people and impose an eight-person limit elsewhere, for four weeks starting Monday regardless of vaccination. Current protocols allow up to ten and 12, respectively.
Exemptions will continue to apply in caring for children and seniors.
Entry passes for those fully vaccinated will be required at restaurants and coffee shops, with exemption for one person out of the permitted group of the maximum six or eight. The government will allow a one-week grace period to minimize public confusion.
Passes will be mandatory at learning institutes, internet cafes and movie theaters, while minors aged 12 to 18 will also be required to carry them starting in February.
Meanwhile, the government won't limit operations or impose shutdowns in light of their impact on small businesses and people's livelihoods.