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S. Korea unveils blueprint for 'Living with COVID-19' Updated: 2021-10-26 12:09:34 KST

The "Living with COVID-19" plan unveiled by South Korea's health authorities on Monday, involves three phases and stretches into next January.
The first phase is going to start by easing restrictions on small and local businesses.
The next will allow for larger events.
The third and final stage will be to lift caps on all social gatherings.
But before moving onto each stage, there's going to be a six-week period, where health officials look at the number of critical cases, deaths, and the scale of the outbreak to determine whether or not it's appropriate to move onto the next stage.
If all goes as planned, the country might see an end to all restrictions by late January.
The first stage will start next Monday, and will start by raising the limit on social gatherings to 10 people.
At restaurants and cafes, however, parties of ten have to include at least four people who are fully vaccinated.
Authorities will also lift the 10 PM curfew for cafes and restaurants.
There will be no cap on operation hours for singing rooms, gyms, or public baths either, but customers of those establishments will need to show proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter.
Entertainment facilities like nightclubs still have to close at midnight on top of asking for vaccine passes.
While many business owners were happy about the changes, some were divided about the fairness of the new rules.

"Cafes and restaurant owners are welcoming the end of limits on their business hours. But some people running entertainment facilities aren't thrilled about the midnight limit. "

"A lot of people who run singing rooms and gyms say the vaccine pass isn't fair. Why can only fully vaccinated people use our establishments, when pubs can have people who are unvaccinated?"

Health experts are also concerned about a potential surge in infections that this plan may bring.
But they still say,.. that this is a step in the right direction.
And, to make "Living with COVID-19" sustainable for medical staff, mild cases of the virus will now be treated at home.

"It's true that this approach could be somewhat riskier. But if there's a surge in cases, we will not be able to handle it with our current system."

He says that increased at-home recovery is a critical element needed before the country heads into "living with COVID-19."
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News
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