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New social distancing rules allow private gathering of up to 8; movie theaters opened until midnight
Updated: 2021-10-18 17:10:25 KST
Meanwhile, also starting this Monday, South Korea has begun easing restrictions for private gatherings and allowing longer business hours for cafes, diners and other multiuse facilities WHILE sticking overall to the previous level four and level three distancing rules for the greater capital area and the rest of the country, respectively.
This ahead of the planned policy shift aimed at returning to normal life.
We have our Bae Eun-ji live at Gangnam Station.
So Eun-ji, how are Koreans enjoying the first day of eased distancing, if you will.

Well Conn-young, I'm at a movie theater in Gangnam and with the operating hours of some places, including movie theaters, extended, there ARE more people on the streets here near Gangnam Station.
Seoul and the surrounding areas are still at the highest level of social distancing Level 4, and the rest of the country at Level 3.
But movie theaters, performance halls and study cafes in the Seoul area can now stay open two hours longer until midnight.
And with the national college entrance exam approaching, study cafes can too.
Outside the capital region, the extended hours also apply to restaurants and ordinary cafes.
As for limits on private gatherings, in the capital region they can have up to 8 people, up from the current cap of 6.
This is permitted regardless of whether it's before or after 6 PM, but at least 4 people in the group have to be fully vaccinated.
Elsewhere in the country, gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed as long as 6 people are vaccinated.
And as for weddings across the country, up to 250 people can attend the events as long as the number of the unvaccinated is capped at 49.

How are people there responding to the new measures?

People seem to be welcoming the eased restrictions in hopes of getting the economy back to normal.

"The vaccination rate is pretty high now, and new daily cases have fallen to the 14-hundreds after being above 2-thousand for a couple of weeks. So I personally think that considering the economy, it's better to start slowly easing the measures."

"I think it's great that things are returning to how they were before the pandemic, but I think people should follow the rules strictly."

So people do think it's great that we're going back to normal, but there are still concerns that people might lower their guard.
I spoke to the owner of a coffee shop who says this should have been done sooner and hopes they'll let cafes stay open later too.

"I think the easing of the rules on gatherings will be effective. But I think this should have been done sooner. Also people do tend to come to our coffee shop after 10 PM, so I hope they'll change the rule on operating hours."

It seems the new distancing rules are welcomed by both small business owners and the public, as the government prepares for a shift to 'living with the coronavirus' early next month.
That's all I have for now at this hour.
Back to you, Conn-young.
Reporter : ejbae@arirang.com