South Korea will toughen some of its virus control measures in response to a surge in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said at a briefing Friday.
The decision comes after the country previously eased restrictions on Nov. 1 with the goal to “recover to normal life.”
The country has reported six confirmed Omicron cases, according to Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
What are the new restrictions? For four weeks starting Dec. 6, gatherings will be limited to six people in the greater Seoul area and eight people for the rest of the country, regardless of their vaccination status, Kwon said.
More venues, including restaurants and cafes, will require people to be fully vaccinated or present a negative Covid-19 test result to enter. Previously only gyms, clubs and bars required this mandate.
However, up to one unvaccinated person without a negative Covid-19 test result will be allowed to enter these facilities by themselves, or as part of a group where everyone else meets the requirements.
Starting February, children aged 12-18 will also have to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test to enter these facilities.
Spike in cases: South Korea identified 4,944 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 462,555, according to KDCA.
The country currently has a record 736 patients hospitalized in critical condition, while the death toll stands at 3,739.
As of Friday, 83% of the population have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while just over 80% have been fully vaccinated, KDCA said.
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