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A woman wearing a face mask walks near a park, which is taped off to comply with social distancing measures in Seoul, South Korea on January 14.
A woman wearing a face mask walks near a park, which is taped off to comply with social distancing measures in Seoul, South Korea on January 14. Lee Jin-man/AP

South Korea is extending its social distancing rules by 2 weeks until January 31, the country’s Health Ministry said in a news release Saturday. 

A ban on gatherings of five or more people will also remain in place until the end of January, the ministry added. 

Seoul Metropolitan Area has been under social distancing level 2.5, the second-highest level, since early December, while the rest of the country has been on level 2, the third-highest level.

Under existing rules, dining in at restaurants in Seoul and surrounding areas is banned after 9 p.m. Spectators are also banned at sporting events.

These social distancing measures were set to expire on Sunday. But while the number of new daily cases is decreasing, the Health Ministry said the danger of a resurgence remains.

Minister of Health Kwon Deok-cheol said the government will review social distancing levels once daily cases fall to 400.

South Korea’s cases: The country reported 547 local and 33 imported infections on Friday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said in a news release Saturday. That takes South Korea’s total reported caseload to 71,820.

Another 19 patients died, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,236.

The Health Ministry designated the first half of February as a special quarantine period in anticipation of increased traffic during the Lunar New Year festival next month.

Inter-city trains will only be allowed to fill 50% of seats, while visits to nursing facilities will be banned.



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