From Monday for four weeks, private social gatherings of up to six people will be allowed in the capital region and eight people in other areas to deal with rising coronavirus infections in the country.
Currently, up to 10 people can come together in the greater Seoul area and 12 in other parts, regardless of vaccination status.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum also told an interagency meeting on coronavirus response Friday that the vaccine pass system, where people have to either show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result to gain entry into certain high risk facilities, will be expanded.
He said the system will be applied to most facilities, including restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and museums, after a grace period of one week.
But, it will not apply to teens and children for now.
The move virtually suspends the government's so-called living with COVID-19 scheme, which was in place for a month, and re-introduces social distancing measures to block the spread of the disease.
It comes amid record high daily case counts of over 5,000.
Kim said stricter antivirus curbs could be implemented down the line.
He then stressed that getting vaccinated is the best defense against infection and again urged the elderly to get their booster shots and teens to get their first ones.
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