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S. Korea starts to make gradual transition to normal; easing social distancing rules Updated: 2021-11-01 12:28:28 KST

So it is D-DAY here in Korea AS we move beyond pandemic-related restrictions towards a new normal that urges a safe and sustainable life amid COVID-19.
For more I have Choi Won-jong here in the studio.
Welcome back.

Good afternoon.

Won-jong let's begin with a REMINDER about the MAJOR CHANGES in place starting on this Monday.

Yes, let's begin with private gatherings.
Taking a look at our screen right now.
Regardless of their vaccination status, in the Greater Seoul area social gatherings of up to 10 people, with 6 of the group fully vaccinated, are allowed at restaurants and coffee shops with up to 12 people allowed in other areas as long as 8 people are fully jabbed.
But you need to remember at cafes and restaurants, those who are not vaccinated can only meet in groups of up to four.

And do tell us again about the operation hours at dining establishments including cafes here.

Yes, I'm sure many people are curious about these changes as well.
Now, take a look at this up on your screen.
In the Greater Seoul area under level four social distancing cafes and restaurants had to close by 10 PM.
Starting Monday, those limits have been lifted so they can operate around the clock.
But for those considered as high-risk facilities such as clubs and a few types of bars, they can stay open until midnight.

Speaking of high-risk venues proof of vaccination or a negative PCR TEST RESULT need to be shown there right?

Right, a vaccine pass is required when entering places that are considered to be at high risk of COVID-19 exposure.
We are talking about singing rooms, saunas, gyms, bars plus hospitals.
Proving your vaccination status is simple through an app called Coov by using Naver or Kakao or paper documents issued by local health centers.
Regardless of your vaccination status, you can also show a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 48 hours.
But there is a two-week grace period until November 14th to help ease the transition process.
Also, some exceptions will be provided if you are under 18 years old or unable to get vaccinated due to underlying conditions.
There's also some good news for movie-goers and sports fans if you are fully vaccinated, you are now allowed to eat popcorn and drink at theaters, and get chicken and beer at baseball games.

Also do tell us about the changes within the academic arena.

There will be a gradual transition for schools, too.
Starting November 22nd, the first Monday after the national college entrance exams, in-person learning will resume for ALL students, including those in college.
This is after a year and 8 months. since online classes kicked off in April last year.

Meanwhile what's the latest in our inoculation efforts?

Sure, starting Monday, children aged 12 to 15 in Korea have become eligible to get the Pfizer shot.
According to health officials around 490-thousand children have signed up, which is only 27 percent of those eligible.
Vaccinations will start from November 1st until November 27th.
And Korea's booster shot program has also started for people with weakened immune systems, including leukemia patients and people who've had organ transplants.

Won-jong, you mentioned that children aged 12 to 15 are next in line to get inoculated with Pfizer vaccines. But, could other types of vaccines soon become available to minors as well?

Right now, children in 12 to 17 in South Korea are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
Looking at other countries such as the U.S., the FDA has authorized the use of Pfizer shot for children 5 to 11.
Of course, they are waiting for the approval from the CDC.
But interesting thing is, the FDA has not yet given the green light to Moderna vaccine for teenagers yet.
There are some reports saying they are still looking at the possible side effects linked to the Moderna shot such as myocarditis.
We will see how their decision might change over the course of time.
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