The government has decided to extend current social distancing regulations by two more weeks.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced the decision during a government meeting on the COVID-19 response in Seoul on Friday.
Under current protocols, which were due to expire on Sunday, up to four people can gather nationwide, and restaurants and coffee shops should close up at 9:00 p.m.
In addition, Kim said the government will make the COVID-19 pass system mandatory at department stores and retail stores that draw large crowds. All social distancing guidelines will remain in place until January 16.
The government tightened anti-viral measures mid-December amid a resurgence in cases, as the government suspended its first phase of a transition into living with the virus.
To help ease the burden placed on small businesses by the curbs, Kim said the government will hand out five million won each in compensation to some 550-thousand small business owners in the first quarter of next year.
Regarding the controversy over expanding the COVID-19 pass system to include teens, the prime minister said the system will apply to those aged between 12 and 18 starting March 1, when the new semester begins. Still, he was quick to add there will be a grace period of one-month.