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South Korea extends social distancing measures for another two weeks Updated: 2021-12-31 12:06:08 KST

Right Soa thank you for the global tallies over the past 24 hours.
On the local front authorities have DECIDED to EXTEND CURRENT PREVENTION GUIDELINES for TWO MORE WEEKS.
SHIN YE-EUN is here with details on that.
Ye-eun welcome back.

Great to be here Sunny.

Let's begin with news about the extension in social restrictions.

These measures entail limiting social gatherings to four people, and closing most public facilities at 9 pm or 10 pm.
On December 18th, the country pumped the brakes on its gradual return to normal scheme.
Instead, distancing restrictions have been toughened.
Originally, these restrictions were to be effect until Sunday on January 2nd.
Now these measures will be extended till January 16th, meaning they will stay in effect for an extra two weeks.

I assume this latest decision is being DENOUNCED by small business owners?

You're right. It is.
Business owners have repeatedly warned that social gathering caps and business hour restrictions are putting their livelihoods at risk.
That's why the government has been handing out relief funds worth around 8-hundred 40 dollars to each business owner.
Apart from this, on Friday authorities said they will also provide in advance, a separate compensation package to merchants most-affected by the restrictions.
Some 5-hundred-50-thousand self-employed people will receive some 4-thousand 2-hundred U.S. dollars each, as part of this program.
The actual assessment of their losses and follow-up compensation will be made later.

I understand requirements for vaccine passes have been extended?

Yes they have.
Vaccine passes have been extended to department stores and large supermarkets.
To give businesses time to get up to speed, a one-week grace period will be in effect from January 10th.
Authorities have also decided to delay the adoption of vaccine pass requirements for teenagers entering public facilities by one month.
The decision to push the date back from February to March comes as around 30 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 STILL haven't received their first COVID-19 shot.
Even in March, a one-month grace period will be provided before the vaccine pass mandate for this age group comes into full effect.
In regards to all these new measures, set for the beginning of 2022, the Prime Minister called for more patience from the nation's people.
Take a listen to what he had to say.

"We will use the extra two weeks to renew our medical capacity so that we can tackle the Omicron variant. We ask everyone to bear with us a little more so that we can return to normal life in the new year."

How are countries beyond our borders responding to the surge in cases fueld by the Delta and Omicron variants?

Italy has rolled out measures to minimize disruptions to the economy even amid its chaotic COVID-19 situation.
Authorities on Wednesday said they would provide quarantine exemptions to fully vaccinated residents, booster shot recipients, and patients who've recovered from COVID-19 WITHIN the last 120 days, if they come into contact with a COVID-19 patient.
The country will also expand its so-called "super green pass" to all forms of public transport from January 10th.
Other European countries like France, Portugal, Germany, and Northern Ireland have ordered nightclubs to shut down, meaning there will be no New Year's parties at clubs this year.
The U.S. is set on adding fuel to its booster shot campaign, as local news outlets reported the FDA is expected to broaden eligibility for Pfizer boosters to children aged 12 to 15 in the coming days.

All right Ye-eun thank you for now and do stay for more talks.
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