85% Vaccination Rate Set as Threshold for Normal Life

  • By Kim Sung-mo

    October 15, 2021 09:07

    Health authorities on Thursday hinted at the possibility of a return to normal life without face masks or other restrictions once the country's full vaccination rate reaches 85 percent.

    "Theoretically we can be safe even from the Delta variant without face masks, restrictions on private gatherings or the curfew for restaurants and bars if 85 percent of the population are fully vaccinated," Kwon Joon-wook, the deputy chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, told reporters.

    The government already said a phased return to normal would start once the vaccination rate reaches 70 percent early next month. But Kwon added, "That doesn't mean we'll push for it at all cost, but we'll make a rational decision" after further consultations with experts.

    Other experts warned against easing lockdown based on the vaccination rate alone, citing the example of Singapore, where infections have surpassed 3,000 a day after some restrictions were eased when the full vaccination rate reached 80 percent.

    Seoul's Myeong-dong shopping district is crowded with people on Thursday. /Newsis

    In the meantime, health authorities decided to extend the current lockdown rules for another two weeks, except that private gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed in the capital region, instead of the current six, and up to 10 in the provinces.

    Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and other facilities can remain open until midnight.

    The daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 1,684 as of Friday morning.

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