By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) – Amid surging COVID-19 cases, South Korea on Thursday reintroduced gathering limits and shortened business hours for two weeks, state-run media said.
From Saturday through Jan. 2, a gathering will be limited to four people nationwide, with restaurants, cafes and entertainment facilities required to close by 9 p.m., and private educational institutes, movie theaters and internet cafes by 10 p.m.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced the tighter restrictions in a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure.
The government had announced phased "return to normal life" on Nov. 1, but record infections forced it to roll back the policy.
Up to four fully vaccinated people can gather at a restaurant or cafe. Those unvaccinated can use such facilities alone or use take-out or delivery services.
For events and protests, anyone can attend regardless of vaccination status if under 50 attend.
For events with over 50 people, up to 299 can attend so long as they are fully vaccinated, and for exhibitions, expos or international conferences with more than 50 attendees, the vaccine pass will be applied.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 7,622 cases on Thursday, a day after posting a new record daily count of 7,843. Total infections rose to 544,117, with 4,518 related deaths. The country has vaccinated over 80% of its over 51 million population.