South Korea extends social distancing steps as new daily COVID-19 cases remain near record levels
From Joori Roh
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea announced on Sunday that it will extend social distancing measures in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic for another six days through January 3, although near-record numbers of new ones continue to be reported Falls every day.
In the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays, the government banned gatherings of more than four people in the greater Seoul area and closed ski resorts and other tourist attractions. In addition to this temporary restriction, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited in the Greater Seoul Area, and indoor dining is prohibited after 9:00 p.m. Local time.
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"We will monitor the situation for the next week and decide whether to adjust the social distancing measures before January 3, when the special quarantine measures for the holidays end at the end of the year," Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said at a briefing.
The country reported 970 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Sunday, bringing the national record to 56,872 cases with 808 deaths.
That's the smallest in five days, but it's still not far from the 1,241 infections reported on Friday.
Kwon said there will be minor adjustments to the current restrictions, such as takeaway and delivery only for customers who only buy coffee, drinks or desserts in fast food restaurants, a measure already in place at other cafes.
(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Leslie Adler and Kenneth Maxwell)
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