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S. Korea starts to make gradual transition to normal by easing social distancing rules Updated: 2021-11-01 17:17:27 KST

Starting Monday people in South Korea are getting some 'breathing-room' as the country starts its gradual transition back to normal.
As part of the health authorities' plan to gradually ease restrictions, in the Greater Seoul area social gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed at restaurants and coffee shops with up to 12 people allowed in other areas.
But these groups can only contain a maximum of four unvaccinated people.

Business hours at facilities such as coffee shops and restaurants have also changed.
Starting Monday restrictions on operating hours for these facilities have been lifted so they can operate around the clock.
But businesses considered high risk facilities such as clubs and specific types of bars must close by midnight.

Also, certain high risk places require visitors to show proof that they are fully vaccinated.
Those include singing rooms, saunas, gyms, bars and hospitals.
Proving your fully vaccinated status is simple through an app called Coov or through paper documents issued by local health centers.
Those who are not yet vaccinated can instead show a negative PCR test result taken within the past 48 hours.
And those aged under 18 or unable to get vaccinated due to underlying conditions are exempt.

However, shifting to a gradual transition might lead to two or three times the number of infections.
The health authorities say 5-thousand cases a day will be the limit that the current medical system can handle.
And if there are 10-thousand cases a day, the new scheme might have to be put on hold.

This comes as South Korea reported 1-thousand 686 new infections on Monday, with all but 20 locally transmitted, bringing the total caseload to over 366-thousand.
Health authorities have also made some changes to the government's daily briefing.
Instead of releasing the daily caseload first the briefing will begin with the death toll followed by the number of severe cases number of hospitalized patients and confirmed cases in that order.
This comes as the authorities are shifting their focus from the number of positive cases to cases of severe illness.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News.
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