Lockdown on Restaurants, Coffee Shops Eased

      September 14, 2020 12:39

      The government on Sunday eased a curfew on restaurants and coffee shops in the greater Seoul area starting Monday as new coronavirus infections remained below 200 a day for the last week.

      Bakeries and fast-food franchises will be allowed to serve customers in their stores, and indoor sports facilities such as gyms and pool halls can open again. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday the decision is based on "a comprehensive review of the current situation and experts' opinions."

      The number of new cases declined from 441 on Aug. 26 to 121 on Saturday. As of Monday morning, another 109 cases were reported, bringing the cumulative total to 22,285.

      But karaoke venues, bars and buffet restaurants will remain closed for another week until Sept. 20 as they are considered "high-risk" places, while Internet cafes can reopen only to adult customers. A ban on indoor gatherings of more than 50 people will also remain in place.

      The government will decide whether to extend quarantine measures further or not on Sept. 27. But Chung warned of another potential surge in infections over the Chuseok holiday from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 and a long weekend the following week. He said the government will designate the two weeks from Sept. 28 as an "intensive" quarantine period across the country.

      He also expressed disappointment that many Koreans have booked hotels and other accommodation for the holiday despite government pleas to stay home. He warned that they could "undermine" efforts to contain the resurgence in infections.

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