South Korea to reinstate distancing curbs amid spike in Covid-19 cases

A man rides a bicycle past people who are waiting in a line to undergo coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test at a testing site in Seoul, South Korea, on Dec 15, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - South Korea said on Thursday (Dec 16) it will reinstate social distancing rules a month-and-a-half after lifting them under a 'living with Covid-19' policy, as spiralling numbers of both new infections and serious cases threaten to overwhelm its medical system.

Curbs will return from Saturday to Jan 2, limiting gatherings to no more than four people - as long as they are vaccinated - and forcing restaurants, cafes and nightly entertainment facilities to close by 9pm and movie theatres and internet cafes by 10pm, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said.

Unvaccinated people can only dine out alone, or use takeout or delivery services.

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The measures came a day after South Korea posted another new record daily coronavirus tally amid a persistent spike in breakthrough infections among those vaccinated and serious cases.

More than 94 per cent of South Korean adults are fully vaccinated, but the number of new cases has surged nearly five-fold and the number of serious cases tripled since the rules were eased last month, adding to strains on the country's medical system.