Sunday, March 3, 2024

COVID-19: South Koreans return to work, crowd parks, malls

South Koreans are returning to work and crowding shopping malls, parks, golf courses, and some restaurants as South Korea relaxes social distancing rules amid a continued downward trend in coronavirus cases.

A growing list of companies, including SK Innovation and Naver, has ended or eased their work from home policy in recent weeks, though many continue to apply flexible working hours and limit travel and face-to-face meetings.

Parks, mountains and golf courses brimmed with visitors over the weekend, while shopping malls and restaurants were slowly returning to normal.

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South Korea’s ongoing recovery from the first major coronavirus outbreak outside China paints a stark contrast to many other countries where metropolises remain sealed off and sweeping stay-at-home orders are in place.

“I’m a member of a community football club and we went out to play on Saturday for the first time in two months,” said Kim Tae-hyung, a 31-year-old power plant engineer living in Seoul.

“We were wearing a mask while we played, still worried about the coronavirus, but the weather was nice and I felt so refreshed.”

South Korea extended its social distancing policy for another 16 days on Sunday but offered some relief for religious and sports facilities previously subjected to strict restrictions.

The decision is aimed at cautiously reopening Asia’s fourth-largest economy as daily infections continue to hover around or less than 20, most arriving from overseas.

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Seoul’s defence ministry also said on Monday that the military is resuming medical screening for candidates while considering easing restrictions on travel and guest visits.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 13 new cases on Monday, a day after posting just eight — the first single-digit daily rise since the Feb. 28 peak of 909. The death toll stands at 236.

Health authorities urged vigilance, warning new clusters could still emerge at any time, especially after South Korea held the first national election last week since the epidemic began, and ahead of long holidays starting next week.

Schools have yet to open and are holding online classes.

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Signature TV is a multi-media company, owners and operators of signaturetv.org and producers of The Signature Show on AIT and Corruption Tori. Our programmes are broadcast on the AIT Network and on Seven NTA stations across the country. We are content providers for a number of television networks and some State TV stations, with a respected 24/7, high online and offline followership. We are also Communications/Media Consultants to MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation and OSIWA.

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