SEOUL • South Korea will extend its tighter Covid-19 restrictions for three more weeks amid lingering worry about small clusters of Covid-19 infections in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Under the country's five-tier social distancing guidelines, the third-highest tier - Level 2 - will be kept in place till May 23 in the capital Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province, with Level 1.5 to be placed on other areas, according to the health authorities.
A ban on any gathering of five or more people will be imposed for three more weeks across the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minster Hong Nam-ki, who also serves as the acting prime minister, told a meeting to tackle the pandemic that it is not the right time to lower one's guard against the coronavirus amid the still high number of confirmed cases.
Mr Hong said that there is a possibility for the infection risk to be heightened this month when three holidays are celebrated, vowing to control the virus spread within the next three weeks.
Local governments will be allowed to adjust details on the restrictions according to the severity of infections.
Under Level 2 guidelines, the operation of entertainment facilities such as nightclubs is prohibited, but local governments can let such facilities run until 10pm local time in accordance with the observance of sanitary measures.
The operation of multi-use facilities, such as restaurants, cafes, indoor sports facilities and karaoke rooms, is limited to 10pm in the greater Seoul area under Level 2 rules, but business hours can be shortened if infection numbers rise.
No restriction will be imposed nationwide on the business hours of other multi-use facilities, including movie theatres, Internet cafes, private cram schools, study rooms, amusement parks, beauty shops and discount outlets.
South Korea yesterday reported 661 more cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 122,007.
The daily caseload has stayed below 700 for two days.