(Photo: Yonhap News)
The government has decided to raise the social distancing level in the greater Seoul area by one notch to Level 1.5 starting Thursday, in response to a surge in new COVID-19 cases.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced the move on Tuesday during a Central Disaster Management Headquarters meeting, saying antivirus efforts are facing a crisis.
"In particular, the situation in the metropolitan area, where more than half of the population is concentrated, is very serious," he said.
Chung also pointed out that over the past week, the capital area had more than a hundred patients a day on average.
South Korea has recorded more than 200 daily new cases of the coronavirus for four consecutive days now, with health authorities fighting to contain the spread of sporadic cluster infections and community transmission in cities across the country.
Under Level 1 distancing, people are required to wear masks in all public spaces and follow other basic guidelines while gatherings of over 500 people are discouraged.
Under Level 1.5, facilities with higher risk of virus infection, such as bars, clubs and indoor concert halls, are required to adopt stricter quarantine measures, such as keeping certain distances between tables and setting up partitions.
Rallies, music concerts and festivals are capped at 100 attendants, and no eating, chanting or singing is allowed.
Sports events and churches must also limit attendance at 30 percent of their maximum capacity.
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