June 21, 2021 09:45
Private gatherings of up to six people will be allowed in the greater Seoul area next month, while more relaxed rules will apply in other parts of the country.
Restaurants, coffee shops and bars in the capital area can open until midnight and as long as they want elsewhere, while gyms will no longer be subject to curbs on operating hours.
The new rules, announced Sunday, will go into effect provided coronavirus infections remain below 1,000 a day.
They differ between the greater Seoul area and the rest of the country because the government will allow provincial authorities to apply them flexibly according to their circumstances.
The government decided to cap gatherings at six people in the Seoul metropolitan area for the first two weeks of July because infections still number in the hundreds. If they remain below 500, private gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed in the Seoul metropolitan area from mid-July.
But people will still have to wear face masks in shops and other indoor facilities as well as crowded outdoor places, though those who have been vaccinated can take them off.
Some health experts advise that people should voluntarily avoid gatherings anyway. Chun Eun-mi at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital said, "The threat of COVID-19 variants remains high, so people who have not been vaccinated yet should refrain from going out and avoid large crowds."
The daily tally of new infections stood at 357 as of Monday morning.
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