| 23 February 2024, Friday |

S.Korea eases COVID-19 restrictions on concerts, sports games

After declaring last week that it would remove a number of coronavirus limitations as the country moves forward with its immunization effort, South Korea began lifting limitations on large concerts and sports events on Monday.

According to health officials’ announcements on Friday, up to 4,000 people would be allowed to attend K-Pop concerts and other cultural events starting Monday, up from a capacity limit of less than 100 people since late last year.

Sports stadiums will be able to function at a capacity of 30% to 50%, depending on the districts, up from 10% previously.

While South Korea has fought small clusters of coronavirus infections in recent months, the daily infection number hit a two-month low on Sunday while the government has pushed through with its vaccination drive.

The government has also said it would loosen some quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated overseas visitors.

Some of those tourists can seek for exemptions from South Korea’s statutory two-week quarantine starting July 1 if they are visiting family or traveling for business, academics, or public interest, according to health officials.

Many countries are contemplating a gradual return to normal as the COVID-19 vaccine deployment gains traction, opening borders and allowing people back into restaurants, stores, and sports arenas after more than a year of on-and-off lockdowns.

South Korean tour agencies were also preparing new travel packages after the government’s announcement last week that it is accelerating talks aimed at securing “travel bubbles” with a few countries, including Singapore and Thailand, the Korea Association of Travel Agents told Reuters.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong, around 11.8 million people, or 23 percent of the country’s population, have received a first dose.

According to a Reuters tally of state and local government sources, this is lower than the vaccination rate seen in many advanced countries, such as 61 percent in the United Kingdom, but greater than 12 percent in Japan. Japan, like South Korea, began immunizing its citizens in February.

While there has been a large reduction in new cases in nursing homes since many older people have got immunizations, South Korea will only witness a full reduction in local transmissions in September, when over 70% of the population will have been vaccinated, according to Jeong.

  • Reuters