South Korea says it will extend strict social distancing rules for three more weeks as it braces for a surge in new coronavirus infections fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday that antivirus measures, including the 9 p.m. curfew for restaurants and cafes, will remain in place until February 6, covering the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday period.
But the four-person limit on private gatherings will be increased to six.
Kim said the government decided to ease the gathering cap after taking into consideration public fatigue from the prolonged pandemic.
But he also warned that the virus situation in the country is still serious, especially with the global spread of Omicron, which experts says is likely to cause an explosive surge in the coming weeks.
The announcement came as 4,542 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the country, including a record 409 imported infections, along with 49 additional virus-related deaths.
The prime minister urged people to avoid travel and gatherings during the Lunar New Year holiday to protect their family and curb the spread of infections.
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