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Up to 6 people can gather starting from Mon.; Vaccine passes suspended at malls and markets Updated: 2022-01-17 05:30:54 KST

South Korea has been seeing COVID-19 cases in the 4,range for five days in a row,..with Monday expected to bring similiar numbers.
With the Lunar New Year holiday approaching, health authorities have eased some social distancing measures, but many businesses will still have to close by 9PM.

For more COVID-19 updates in South Korea, we our reporter Kim Yeon-seung returns to the studio.
Welcome Yeon-seung

Glad to be here Mokyeon.

So, there are going to be some changes to the social distancing measures from Monday?

That's right.
Starting from this week, up to 6 people can gather.
This is slightly eased from the four-person meeting cap that we've had in the nation for the past four weeks,.. but business curfews are still going to be in place for at least another three weeks.
Eateries, bars, gyms, public baths should close by 9PM, while hagwons, PC rooms, and kids cafes can stay open until 10 at night.
The curbs on mass gatherings and events are being kept in place as well, allowing up to 49 people if there are unvaccinated people in the mix, and up to 299 people if everybody is vaccinated.

Why are health authorities keeping the curbs in place considering we've been seeing this downward trend lately?

Well, somewhat.
There were three,344 new cases logged up until Sunday at 9PM.
This is more than 200 cases fewer than the tally seen at the same time on Saturday, but 539 cases more than the same time last week.
For the past week, South Korea has seen numbers drop to the 3-thousands, only for them to bounce back to over 4-thousand.
So it's a fluctuating situation where people can't completely feel safe.
Infections have dipped with stricter measures but Omicron can drive numbers right back up, so authorities are keeping wary by keeping the curbs in place at least until after Seollal, the Lunar New Year holiday.

But I hear some other COVID-19 measures have been revoked?
Tell us more about that.

Yes, the government have withdrawn the requirement for vaccine passes in malls and supermarkets.
It was a very short-lived measure, lasting for only about a week.
The Seoul Administrative Court last Friday suspended vaccine passes in department stores and markets and for underage citizens in the city.
So health authorities have decided to just remove vaccine pass rules from all malls and markets nationwide altogether.
A more detailed announcement on this will come later this morning.
Vaccine passes are still necessary for cafes, restaurants, and bars, however.
** An unvaccinated person can only visit these facilities if they sit alone.**

Let's talk about the COVID-19 anti-viral pills that are now in South Korea. You actually reporting on them arriving at a pharmacy last Friday

Yes, I was at one of the pharmacies that was the first to stock up on Pfizer's oral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid.
Well, the first batch arrived in the country last week and roll out began starting from last Friday.
As for now, only people 65 or over, or those with reduced immunity are being prescribed the pills.
9 people who are being treated from home started taking the treatment on Friday.
And so far, none of the recipients have reported any anomalies or side effects.
Central Disease Control Headquarters also said on Saturday, that most of these patients have shown visible improvement in their conditions.
So let's hope that these pills that have been so often hailed as a game-changer help in taking down all these COVID-19 curbs.

Alright, thank you for that report.
We'll see you back here tomorrow.

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