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S.Korea imposes five-stage, anti-COVID measures amid virus hike, masks now mandatory nationwide

Sun 01 Nov 2020    
| 2 min read

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Sunday announced a new social distancing scheme based on five levels instead of three, with plans to improve anti-virus measures amid criticisms that label the current system as too broad-brush.

The scheme took effect Saturday with the government dividing the nation into seven zones, with the level of each zone determined based on the average number of daily infections per week.

“We are trying to improve effectiveness and adherance to anti-virus rules by reconstructing anti-virus measures in a tailored fashion,” he said in a meeting at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.

Facilities are to be grouped into “priority” and “regular” sites under the new scheme, while mask wearing and other key rules that were previously mandatory only at “high-risk” facilities will now apply nationwide.

The areas, where mask mandates will go into effect, also include venues of rallies, indoor sports facilities, hospitals, call centers, logistics centers as well as gatherings of more than 500 people.

The announcement came as South Korea reported triple-digit new case numbers for the fifth straight day, bringing the total caseload to 26,635.

Level 1 signifies a controllable level of transmission that allows people to carry out their ordinary lives while wearing masks and following social distancing rules at designated facilities.

If the transmissions climb to levels above stage 2, exceeding the health system’s routine response, the residents will begin to see impositions of curbs on outdoor trips. In the event that more than 800 new daily cases are reported for a week, the nation will effectively be placed in lockdown.

Eating at restaurants will be only allowed until 9pm at Level 2, 2.5 and 3. Restaurants will be permitted to offer only takeout and delivery after 9pm.

Chung warned against becoming complacent, stressing that the revised scheme is not intended to boost the economy by easing anti-virus measures but rather to tighten them.

Speaking to next month’s college admission exams, he said the government is making preparations to allow COVID-19 patients to take the test.

He called on the education ministry to step up implementation of social distancing rules and asked students and parents to strictly adhere to them.

[Sourced from Agencies]