July 01, 2021 12:29
Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon decided on Wednesday to extend lockdown for another week amid a spike in coronavirus infections. The decision came as a bitter blow to thousands of small businesses that had been poised to reopen on Thursday.
In the capital region, private gatherings of more than four people therefore remain banned and a 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and cafés remains in place. Bars and nightclubs stay shut.
But the rest of the country breathed a sigh of relief as groups of up to eight can gather socially and the curfew does not kick in until 12 p.m. In busy Jeju, the cap on group meetings is six people.
The local governments in the capital region made the decision only 24 hours before lockdown was to be lifted, citing 375 new infections in Seoul alone on Tuesday, the largest number in recent months, and 631 new cases in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon combined.
Across the country nearly 800 new cases were reported, the most since April 23.
According to health authorities, the capital region accounted for about 64 percent of new daily cases on May 23-29, but that rose to 74 percent on June 20-26 and an alarming 83 percent on Wednesday. The daily tally of new infections remains high with 762 cases as of Thursday morning.
But private gatherings of fully vaccinated people will not be limited by number, and those who have had at least one jab will not need to wear face masks in non-congested outdoor places.
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