The government has stressed that January is the "last critical juncture" to curb the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and change its course, with vaccinations expected to begin next month.
Explaining the extended social distancing measures in a Saturday briefing, Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said the next two weeks is a time to reduce patient numbers and strengthen the country's quarantine system.
He also assessed that distancing rules and special restrictions implemented for the holiday were slowly proving effective.
In fact, people's movement in the capital area, measured by mobile phone locations, is at the lowest level since the start of the outbreak.
The minister said the growth in patient numbers is slowing with around one thousand daily cases registering nationwide for the past two weeks. He added that the virus reproduction rate is also approaching one.
Kwon said a critical time is nearing that will determine the future course of the spread and urged citizens to endure through the two winter months when the virus is expected to be most active.
He said that if the outbreak expands such as due to new variants from abroad, the domestic healthcare system may reach its limit.
The minister also said that coronavirus inoculations are expected to begin in February with vaccines secured for 56 million people.
Kwon asked for the public's participation in the extended distancing measures for two more weeks.