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S. Korea releases new social distancing guidelines on Friday Updated: 2021-10-15 09:43:48 KST

Local health authorities have released a new set of social distancing guidelines that will take effect from next week and until the end of this month.
For more on this and other COVID-19-related updates, joining us live in the studio is our reporter, Shin Ye-eun, good afternoon.

Good afternoon.

Authorities have just announced some new distancing measures.
Tell us what they are and how they're different from the ones we've had for weeks, now.

Not too much has changed.
They have extended the current measures for another two weeks
meaning that the greater Seoul area is under level four and areas outside the capital are under level three.
But what did change was the limit on the number of people allowed to gather after 6 pm.
First in the greater Seoul area up to a maximum of 8 people can meet, regardless of whether they meet before or after 6 PM.
Of the eight, four have to be fully vaccinated.
Those in level three areas outside the capital can meet in groups of up to 10as long as six people are fully vaccinated.
Also to help high school seniors prepare for the national college entrance exam study cafes and libraries can extend their business hours to midnight.

Some vaccine incentives have also been introduced.
More of the fully vaccinated can attend religious services in-person, play in sports competitions and watch games at stadiums.

Friday's guidelines will work as a bridge for the country to smoothly transition to next month's COVID-19 exit strategy"living with COVID-19" where authorities focus on the number of deaths and patients in critical condition rather than the number of daily cases.

And will these be the last measures before we move on to the "living with COVID-19" strategy set for November?

Hopefully yes
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said that he hopes the measures introduced on Friday will be the final ones before the country eases even more restrictions from November.
Take a listen.

"I really hope this will be the last adjustment before we start to gradually return to our daily lives as promised in November. We have some 15 days left before taking the step of returning to normal. This is our last hurdle. We ask everyone to continue cooperating with the measures and get vaccinated."

The Prime Minister said authorities are still on the lookout for a potential uptick in cases following the three-day weekend for Hangeul Day on October 9th.
And with many moving around the country to enjoy the autumn foliage.
But he also mentioned that with higher vaccination rates the number of new cases will drop.

We're already starting to see that as South Korea is likely to reach 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated sooner than expected. Tell us about the number of new COVID-19 infections on Friday.

We definitely have seen a drop from the day before.
South Korea on Friday confirmed 1-thousand 6-hundred 84 new COVID-19 infections.
All but 14 of today's cases were locally transmitted.
Meanwhile, more than 62-point 5 percent of people have been fully vaccinated.

Hopefully the number of new infections stays low over the weekend.
And South Korea is not the only country showing progress.
The United States is showing some advances in dealing with COVID-19. Tell us more.

The U.S. has been trying to enforce vaccine mandates for federal workers and major companies.
And President Biden said Thursday that his plan has been working because the COVID-19 case rates have since been falling in 39 states.
Here's what he said.

"It's working. We're making progress. Nationally, daily cases are down 47 percent Case rates are declining in 39 states, and hospital rates are declining in 38 states. We're down to 66 million, still unacceptably high number, of unvaccinated people, from almost 100 million in July."

The President's comments came a day after the country's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said vaccinations will further contain the virus especially since experts found that there won't be a more dangerous or contagious variant than Delta.
Meanwhile, the U.S. vaccine drive got another boost on Thursday when a panel of outside advisers to the FDA unanimously voted in favor of authorizing Moderna booster shots for seniors aged 65 and up and those at risk of severe illness.
The FDA will use this result when making its decision on the shots.
If it approves them, the final ruling will be made by the CDC, which is scheduled to meet next week.

Thank you for your reports throughout the week, Ye-eun.
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