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Press Release

Social Gatherings Banned at Entertainment Facilities in Greater Seoul and Other Level 2 Regions

  • Date : 2021-04-28
  • Hit : 344

Social Gatherings Banned
at Entertainment Facilities in Greater Seoul and Other Level 2 Regions

- Current social distancing levels maintained in consideration of the nation’s medical response capacity (Greater Seoul : Level 2, Non-Greater Seoul : Level 1.5).
- Infection prevention/control measures strengthened for high-risk facilities such as workplaces and churches.
- Expand testing to identify asymptomatic patients and other hidden cases, testing within 48 hours now mandated in Greater Seoul for individuals showing symptoms.

□ The members of Korea’s COVID-19 government response team, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) headed by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, met today (April 9th (Fri)) in the Video Conference Room of the Government Complex Seoul. In the meeting which was presided over by the Prime Minister, representatives from each department of the central government, 17 metropolitan governments, and representatives of the Korean National Police Agency from its 18 regional offices (city/province), reviewed the latest updates on the nation’s COVID-19 response including the revision of social distancing measures.

□ The CDSCH recognized the decision to maintain the current social distancing levels for the period beginning next week was taken in consideration of the fatigue arising from the prolonged lockdowns and the impact strengthened measures may have at the grassroots level of our economy. This in turn has greatly expanded the scope of the task faced by the government as it now has to devise a strategy to turn the tide of growing case numbers without tightening the social distancing regime.

○ Still, even without further restrictions, nothing significantly greater than just one additional site inspection by the authorities can have a commensurate effect in infection prevention/control, thereby making this decision a prescient once infection trends are brought under control by such government efforts.

○ Empathizing with the scale of the task as it likened it to the final arduous climb to the summit, the CDSCH asked each government department and the local governments to place the full force of the public sector behind the implementation and management of infection prevention/control measures.

□ With the two pillars of Korea’s COVID-19 response being the 3T Strategy (Testing, Tracing, and Treatment) and social distancing, the decision to maintain social distancing levels brings with it greater emphasis on diagnostic testing, rapid epidemiological investigations, and securing sufficient medical response capacity is critical.

○ In contrast to last winter, the nation is currently seeing sufficient number of beds remaining available for COVID-19 patients, while the case numbers in convalescent hospitals have yet to spike due to vaccinations. But the CDSCH warned against complacency, and asked the authorities in charge of infection prevention/control and the local governments to once again make sure the nation’s medical response capacity remains stable and the capacity in its residential treatment centers and beds remains sufficient.

○ The CDSCH explained that until the nation is fully inoculated, disease control authorities need to continue to generate maximum leverage from the nation’s diagnostic capacity of 500,000 tests per day.

○ This means that should case numbers surge, epidemiological investigations need to be able to scale up at an equivalent rate. CDSCH reminded all present that for this to happen, the infection prevention/control authorities and the local governments need to double check the sufficiency of epidemiological investigation capacity so that there are enough human resources ready to be deployed to prevent virus transmission rates from outpacing investigative speed.


1. Adjusted Social Distancing Rules


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) reviewed the latest updates to the social distancing guidelines from the Central Disaster Management Headquarters (headed by Minister Kwon Deok-cheol) currently operated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

<1> Current Trends and Risk Assessments


□ Daily new cases of COVID-19 had plateaued at the 300-400 cases/day range for more than ten weeks since the third week of January (January 17th – January 23rd), but lately the infection curve has started to slope upwards.

* Daily new cases: 384.0 (January Week 4) → 353.1 (February Week 2) → 369.4 (February Week 4) → 428.3 (March Week 2) → 415.9 (March Week 3)

○ As the nation entered the month of April, daily new cases persisted in the 500 range. The figure for average daily new infections calculated for the week tallied by authorities was 559.3. This is reminiscent of the numbers observed at the onset of the third wave of the COVID-19 virus on November 13th, 2020).

< Daily New Cases for the Recent Week (Local Outbreaks)>

4.1

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

4.9

Weekly Average (new cases/day)

Nation-wide

537

532

521

514

449

460

653

674

644

559.3

342

342

316

311

276

272

413

485

450

360.4

195

190

205

203

173

188

240

189

194

198.9

□ Greater Seoul is seeing daily new infections grow from 300-plus cases/day to more than 400 a day, while in Non-Greater Seoul an overall uptick in cases numbers is reported mainly from the provinces of Chungcheong (both north and south) and Gyeongsangnam-do.

* Non-Greater Seoul Average Number of Daily New Cases Per Week : (March Week 2) 114.4 → (April Week 1) 173.4

○ Busan Metropolitan City, Daejeon Metropolitan City, two regions in the province of Jeollabuk-do (Jeonju city, Yiseo municipality, and two cities in Gyeonsangnam-do province (Jinju, Geoje) are currently under level 2 rules of social distancing in response to infection trends and the local infection prevention/control situation.

< Average Daily New Cases Per Week (Local Outbreaks) >

Level

Average Daily New Cases/Week (Local Outbreaks)

03.06-03.12

03.13-03.19

03.20-03.26

03.27-04.02

04.03-04.09

Greater-Seoul

2

312.9

302.6

289.4

302.6

360.4

Non-Greater Seoul

1.5

105.4

118.1

124.9

170.4

198.9

Chungcheong (North/South)

1.5

26.9

17.3

18.0

43.3

53.9

Honam

1.5

16.9

11.3

9.7

16.4

28.6

Gyeongsang (North)

1.5

11.4

12.9

25.0

22.1

29.7

Gyeongsang (South)

1.5

32.9

58.4

53.0

70.1

73.7

Gangwon

1.5

14.6

17.0

18.4

17.0

10.9

Jeju

1.5

2.9

1.3

0.7

1.4

2.1

7-Day Total

418.3

420.7

414.3

473.0

559.3

□ Small-scale outbreaks are persisting across the nation, and infection reports from publicly used facilities are increasing.

○ With transmissions via contact with COVID-19 patients continuing (39.9% of cases), with the easing of infection prevention/control measures, case reports from publicly used facilities such as entertainment facilities, along with infections in places of worship, workplaces, and child-care facilities are all growing.

○ The expert opinion suggests that after the third wave of the virus passed, mild symptom and asymptomatic cases slipped through the epidemiological investigation net, thereby greatly reducing the effectiveness of contact tracing. These accumulated factors became sources of infection for communities.

* Proportion of unclear cases in chain of transmission investigations (number of patients) : November 13% (883) → December 23.3% (5,250) → January 22.3% (4,895) → February 20.7% (2,377) → March 23.5% (2,815) → Week 14(03.28-04.02) 27.5% (805)

□ Population movement continues to increase with April’s various religious holidays and the warmer weather is leading to more frequent outdoor activities.

* Weekend population movement has steadily grown since the second week of January, with the preceding weekend of April 3rd – April 4th seeing 62.35 million instances of population movement across the nation, which is approaching the levels seen in early November of 2020 (74.03 million instances) before the onset of the third wave.

○ With social distancing rules remaining in place for extended periods, the nation is experience “caution fatigue,” a decrease in motivation to adhere to infection prevention/control measures, which is resulting in the continued reports of infection.

○ There were cases where even when symptoms of COVID-19 were noticed, patients visited publicly used facilities or showed up to work, thereby triggering cluster outbreak incidents.

- Of the 3,606 instances of cluster outbreaks (February – mid-March (2021)), 834 cases (23%) are suspected to have been caused by symptomatic COVID-19 patients visiting publicly used facilities.

- A significant portion of symptomatic cases visit hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies before they become confirmed COVID-19 cases. This means that there had been ample opportunity for early discovery, as cases were observed where people recommended testing did not feel compelled to comply.

○ Authorities are also seeing a growing number of infection prevention/control violations at publicly used facilities.

- Of particular note were the entertainment facilities where there were many instances of violations of infection prevention/control measures such as non-compliance with mandated business hours, improper record-keeping of various service-providers in their visitor register, causing difficulties in performing rapid epidemiological investigations.

* Analysis of cluster outbreaks related to entertainment facilities centered in and around Seoul and the province of Gyeongsangnam-do since January : 50 entertainment facilities (Seoul (2), Busan (41), Gyeongsangnam-do (7)), cumulative number of confirmed cases (Total : 360)

- Karaoke bars did not keep visitor records of attendants/hostesses booked through representatives operating illegal businesses for fear of disclosing their identities, while there were also violations of infection prevention/control codes banning the sale and consumption of alcohol, and the consumption of food.

□ Korea’s COVID-19 response strategy is at a critical stage. The number of cases have to be minimized to the greatest extent possible during the second quarter when vaccines are being administered to seniors, so that the vaccine rollout plans proceed without incident.

○ It is imperative that the nation’s pandemic response not be split between vaccination and infection prevention/control (maintenance of medical response capacity), which could happen if there is a significant surge in cases.

- Making sure the path towards full vaccination of the senior demographic is undisrupted and stable while reducing the number of severe symptom cases from the second half of 2021 are all critical elements to the plan of minimizing the risks of and negative fallout from COVID-19.


○ On a different note, experience from the previous waves of infection warns that the danger still remains that the nation might experience a doubling of cases over the course of one to two week.

* 113 cases (November 11th, 2020) → 245 cases (November 18th) → 553 (November 26th) → 1,002 (December 13th)

- When the infection trends are compared to what the nation experienced during the third wave, the current plateau of higher cases is persisting for a period three times longer, with case numbers four times greater. These all point to the potential of the next wave of infections being greater than the preceding third wave.

* (Third Wave) Infection curve plateaued at 100-plus cases for 22 days / (Fourth Wave) Infection curve is plateauing at 400-plus cases for 10 weeks

○ What is different is that this time, the nation’s healthcare system has secured greater capacity to handle cases in comparison to the third wave.

- Currently there are 113 critical/severe cases, which is a figure lower than what the third wave reported.

* 354 cases (January 1st) → 229 cases (January 31st) → 135 cases (February 28th) → 131 cases (March 1st) → 113 cases (April 9th)

- Authorities have currently secured greater medical response capacity with 611 beds dedicated to severe cases, and more than 9,000 beds ready for mild to moderate cases.


<2> Core Elements of the Adjusted Social Distancing Rules

□ Using these analyses, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) has had in-depth discussions with experts and appropriate government branches including relevant government departments, local governments, and the Committee on Infectious Disease Control and Prevention in Daily Life to arrive at the latest adjusted rules.

○ Level 2 rules for social distancing for Greater Seoul and Level 1.5 rules for Non-Greater Seoul will remain in place for a period of three weeks beginning April 12th (Mon), 00:00, to May 2nd (Sun), 24:00, while infection prevention/control measures will be strengthened for facilities and activities at risk of COVID-19.

- Since the pandemic is currently at a transmission phase with infections spreading, experts do not expect the trend to quickly change any time soon. Therefore, the authorities decided upon a period of three weeks for the current rules, which is longer than previous recommendations.

○ Local governments should raise social distancing levels in accordance with infection trends and the infection prevention/control situation in their local communities.

- The city government of Busan has decided to maintain level 2 rules for three weeks from April 12th.

- Level 2 rules are currently in place for Daejeon (until April 18th), Jeollanam-do (until April 11th in Sunchecon), Jeollabuk-do (until April 15th in Jeonju and Wanju), and Gyeongsangnam-do (until April 11th in Jinju and Geoje). Each local government will decide whether or not these rules should continue.

○ The updated social distancing rules have taken into account the “caution fatigue” regarding the prolonged infection prevention/control regime of the continuing pandemic, in addition to the significant impact the decision to raise social distancing to level 2.5 is expected to have on the economy at the grassroots level.

- Since the third wave, authorities have continued to expand the nation’s medical response capacity, including securing more beds for patient care. The latest social distancing decision has taken into consideration these factors in addition to the overall infection prevention/control capacity.

* Social gatherings banned : Around 64,000 facilities in Greater Seoul and roughly 72,000 in Non-Greater-Seoul. Facility types include entertainment facilities, karaoke bars, and indoor athletic facilities.
* Limited business hours : Approximately 525,000 businesses in Greater Seoul, and around 635,00 in Non-Greater Seoul. Facility types include restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, and internet and gaming cafes.


- Should infections further expand and the situation worsen, authorities will review and adjust social distancing guidelines including ban on gatherings even before May 2nd when the currently mandated period of three weeks will be over.

□ In the he meantime, ban on private gatherings of five people or more* remains in place.

* Exceptions to the ban also remain in effect for situations such as people in cohabitation arrangements, immediate family members, traditional gatherings for wedding preparations, and infants/toddlers.

○ The mask mandate has also been strengthened*. For example, regardless of social distancing levels, masks must be constantly worn in all indoor spaces. Outdoor spaces where the required distance between individuals of more than two meters cannot be maintained, and in crowds forming during rallies, concerts, events, etc. also fall under this mask mandate.

* (Previously) Mask requirements at “Facilities Required to Follow Mask Mandate” strengthen/ease in tandem with social distancing levels.


<3> Stronger infection/prevention measures for level 2 areas including Greater Seoul


○ Gatherings banned at entertainment facilities* in regions under level 2 rules.

* Restrictions apply to operations (types listed below) in locations under level 2 restrictions. (Approximately 15,000 businesses in Greater Seoul and around 24,000 in Non-Greater-Seoul)

- Entertainment bar businesses (such as discrete room type operations (room salon), dance clubs (club), clubs with socializing programs (night)),
- Karaoke bars with attendants/hostesses (danran jujeom))
- Street cart bars where socializing is encouraged (hunting pocha)
- Restaurants where patrons can dance and socializing is tacitly encouraged (gamsung jujeom)
- Dance halls popular with seniors that typically operate during office hours (colatek) and dance halls or dance studios popular with seniors (mudojang)
- Bars where poker games are available (holdem pub)

- However, each local government can recognize the voluntary efforts shown by the entertainment facilities such as thorough implementation of infection prevention/control codes, and ease the ban on gatherings rule by installing in its stead a requirement to close down operations at 22:00.

○ In case the situation does not improve, the closing hours for businesses in level 2 regions required to observe limited business hours* will immediately adjust from 22:00 to 21:00.

* Restrictions apply to operations (types listed below) in locations under level 2 restrictions. (Approximately 430,000 businesses in Greater Seoul and around 520,000 in Non-Greater-Seoul)

Karaoke bars, indoor athletic facilities, public bath businesses, restaurants/coffee shops (only takeout/delivery permitted after 22:00), party spaces, indoor standing-only concert venues, direct sales marketing spaces used by door-to-door sales representatives.

- With cluster outbreaks increasing in publicly used facilities after allowing operations until 22:00, restrictions need to be restrengthened for high-risk facilities where continued wearing of masks is not possible.

○ Mass inspections are conducted, and stronger punishments imposed for activities such as illegal alcohol sales, and illegal procurement of attendants/hostesses in karaoke bars.

* Article 22 of the Music Industry Promotion Act allows punishment for the violation of Subparagraph 3 (He/she shall not sell or provide any alcoholic beverage) of Paragraph 1. First violation will result in ten days suspension of business operation, and the second violation will escalate to one month. Violation of Subparagraph 4 (He/she shall not employ or offer any attendant (regardless of gender) nor shall engage in touting) will result in one month suspension for first violation, and two months for second violation.

- Issues have continued to arise at illegally operated karaoke businesses. Violations such as the failure to keep visitor records of attendants and other workers/service-providers have hobbled epidemiological investigations and made rapid response to outbreaks difficult.

- Therefore, there will be a stronger crackdown of illegal business operations and strict punishments issued for violations of infection prevention/control codes such as failure to keep visitor records.


○ The public bath business will remain under the special management regime with its strengthened measures including the wearing of masks in locker rooms and the testing of staff.

○ For department stores/big-box retailers (3,000㎡ or larger floorspace), the sampling of foods/beverages including the provision of sample packages is prohibited. Infection prevention/control is strengthened at department stores by requiring these businesses to prohibit customers from using rest facilities – such as lounge space and chairs – on their premises, thereby minimizing the visit time of customers.

< Key Elements for Current Social Distancing Rules>

Level 2

Level 1.5

Ban on private gathering of five people or more

* Exemptions : Immediate family/traditional gatherings for wedding preparation/infants and toddlers (8 people), Athletic facilities with facility manager on site, and event spaces dedicated to tradition one-year birthday celebrations (dol janchi)

Implemented nation-wide

Implemented nation-wide

Cinemas, internet and gaming cafes, video game arcades, private educational institutes, study rooms, amusement parks, barbershops and beauty salons, big-box retailers

Business hours not specified

Business hours not specified

Restaurants/coffee shops (food consumption prohibited), indoor athletic facilities, karaoke bars, direct sales marketing spaces used by door-to-door sales representatives, party spaces, indoor standing-only concert venues

Business hours restricted: close by 22:00

Business hours not specified

* Direct sales marketing spaces used by door-to-door sales representatives (close by 22:00)

Entertainment facilities (6 operation types)

(Entertainment bars, karaoke bars with attendants/hostesses (danran jujeom), Restaurants where patrons can dance and socializing is tacitly encouraged (gamsung jujeom), dance halls popular with seniors typically operating during office hours (colatek), dance halls or dance studios popular with seniors (mudojang), street cart bars where socializing is encouraged (hunting pocha),bars where poker games are available (holdem pub)

Gatherings banned

Business hours not specified

Cap on event size

Less than 100 people

Events held in accordance with infection prevention/control codes

* Event size in excess of 500 people requires notifying and arrangement with local authorities.

Religious activities

Regularly scheduled service at 20% facility capacity

* Other gatherings, dining, overnight events prohibited.

Regularly scheduled service at 30% facility capacity

* Other gatherings, dining, overnight events prohibited.


<4> Infection Prevention/Control Measures to Manage Transmission Risks

□ Measures to efficiently shutdown disease transmission in communities such as actively enabling testing of individuals showing symptoms and broader access to preemptive testing are utilized.


○ An administrative order is in place in Greater Seoul for three weeks which requires those recommended testing by doctors/pharmacists to comply within 48 hours.

* (Jeollabuk-do) Administrative order in effect from April 6th until further notice from authorities which requires those recommended testing by doctors/pharmacists to comply within 48 hours.

- When a non-compliance incidence is eventually confirmed as a COVID-19 case, according to the Infection Disease Control and Prevention Act, the involved individuals will be held accountable (fine of 2 million won), which includes being excluded from receiving support for medical and livelihood costs, and potentially becoming subject to indemnity claims.

- Authorities are in discussion with related parties including medical community and local governments to provide detailed follow-up measures to be rapidly implemented.

○ To effectively stop community transmission and enable convenient testing, access to testing through screening centers is widened to disregard social distancing levels, geographic location, and symptom type so as to cast a wider net which includes those without symptoms and unrelated to epidemiological investigations.

- In case preemptive testing is required for Non-Greater Seoul, temporary screening clinics are set up to enable testing irrespective of social distancing level and region, while also actively supporting the financial costs of testing.


□ Authorities will intensify management of infection prevention/control in high-risk facilities.

○ Each government department will implement special management policies for infection prevention/control in high-risk workplaces such as contact centers, logistics distribution warehouses, close-proximity work settings (manufacturing plants, plants with on-site housing), and meat processing plants. (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Employment and Labor, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Financial Services Commission, Ministry of Science and ICT).


- High-risk workplace settings will be subject to risk assessments, while cooperation will be requested from relevant private sector associations and organizations for adherence to infection prevention/control codes such as isolation of staff showing symptoms and immediate testing. Mass inspections of such workplaces will also be conducted.

- Practices such as working from home and staggered shifts and lunch hours will be put in place at private corporations and public agencies to mitigate crowding in workplaces.

○ Mass inspections are performed for sites which shave been under a special management regime such as live-in prayer centers/missionary centers, religious educational centers, and undenominated religious facilities.

- Stricter management of infection prevention/control measures are planned in order to enforce the ban on gatherings outside of regularly scheduled religious services (EG. small group meetings, dining, and overnight stays). Infection prevention/control codes will be strictly yet justly enforced with violations addressed according to a zero-tolerance policy.

○ The management program for infection prevention/control in place for child-care facilities which includes preemptive testing for child-care and early childhood education providers (since April 1st) will continue.

- Child-care and early childhood education providers are urged to refrain from private gatherings such as official workplace dining events. Staff and children should stay home when they have a fever or respiratory symptoms. Guidelines which include such guidance will be provided.

○ School/classroom density (Ministry of Education, Offices of Education) will be supervised, while private educational institutes will be inspected (Offices of Education, local governments). Enhanced guidance on infection prevention/control codes for these sites will also be provided.

- At the level of each Office of Education, plans are being prepared to prevent further disease transmission by taking a variety of steps that include identifying and preemptively managing vulnerabilities to infection. Individuals showing suspicious symptoms will immediately refrain from coming to schools/facilities and receive testing.


□ Efforts will be made to boost awareness of standard infection prevention/control codes and strengthen inspections to induce compliance by both the facility managers and users of publicly used facilities.

○ Each government department will meet with relevant private sector associations/organizations to provide guidance on and raise awareness of the standard infection prevention/control codes as part of the larger effort by the ministries to encourage proactive compliance from facilities that come within their purview.

○ Infection prevention/control codes will be strictly enforced according to a zero-tolerance policy, with violations addressed using measures such as fines and bans on gatherings.

- Further, local governments will strengthen infection prevention/control by using measures such as early closing hours (22:00) and bans on gatherings for business categories where infection prevention/control violations are frequently reported.


<5> Detailed Infection Prevention/Control Measures for Each Social Distancing Level

□ Business hours are not specified for publicly used facilities such as cinemas, internet and gaming cafes, video game arcades, private educational institutes, study rooms, amusement parts, barbershops and beauty salons, and big-box retailers located in level 2 regions.

○ On-site food/beverage consumption in restaurants/coffee shops* is allowed only before 22:00, and only take-out/deliveries available from 22:00

* Two or more customers ordering just coffee/beverage(s)/simple desserts are strongly urged to limit their in-store time to one hour or less.

○ Furthermore, indoor athletic facilities, karaoke bars, product marketing spaces used by door-to-door sales representatives in direct sales business, party spaces, indoor standing-only concert venues can operate until 22:00. However, when no improvements to the pandemic situation is observed, 21:00 closing hours can be expected.

○ Gatherings are banned at entertainment bar businesses, room salon (discrete room type operations), colatek (dance halls popular with seniors that typically operate during office hours), mudojang (dance halls or dance studios popular with seniors), hunting pocha (street cart bars where socializing is encouraged), and holdem pub (bars where poker games are available). Each local government can review voluntary actions taken by these businesses to observe infection prevention/control codes and allow reopening of businesses with early closing hours (22:00) for its jurisdiction.

○ Cinemas/concert venues can remain open in level 2 regions by keeping a seat empty between each customer/customer group. For sports events, ticket sales are limited to 10% of facility capacity.

○ Gatherings/events with 100 people or more are banned during level 2, while public bath businesses can operate sauna/sweat lodge facilities with early closing hours (22:00).


□ In level 1.5 regions, publicly used facilities such as restaurants/coffee shops*, indoor athletic facilities, karaoke bars, party spaces, indoor standing-only concert venues can operate without business hour limitations under the condition that infection prevention/control codes are observed. However, direct sales marketing spaces used by door-to-door sales representatives will operate with early closing hours (22:00).

* Two or more customers ordering just coffee/beverage(s)/simple desserts are strongly urged to limit their in-store time to one hour or less.

○ Entertainment bar businesses, danran jujeom (karaoke bars with hostesses/attendants), gamsung jujeom (restaurants where patrons can dance and socializing is tacitly encouraged), colatek (dance halls popular with seniors that typically operate during office hours), mudojang (dance halls or dance studios popular with seniors), hunting pocha (street cart bars where socializing is encouraged), holdem pub (bars where poker games are available) can operate under the condition that infection prevention/control codes are followed, without limitations placed on operation hours.

○ At level 1.5, cinemas/concert venue operations can continue by keeping a seat unoccupied between customer groups. Sports events can admit crowds up to 30% of facility capacity.

○ Gatherings/events with 500 people or more must follow core infection prevention/control codes including the wearing of masks, in addition to internally preparing an infection prevention/control plan dedicated to the event and notifying and coordinating with the local authorities with regard to this plan.


□ On a different note, the Committee on Infectious Disease Control and Prevention in Daily Life has been officially convening since April 8th, 2020, as a consultative organ comprised of experts and civil society representatives to discuss implementation of COVID-19 infection prevention/control measures in daily life.

○ With the inaugural members successfully finishing their service (April 7th, 2021), the Committee has welcomed the members for its next session, starting April 8th, 2021, with two additional members participating as representatives of the self-employed/small merchant community (21 members total*).

* Committee Co-Chairs : Minister of Health and Welfare, President of the Korea Health Personnel Licensing Examination Institute
Members : Medical/pharmaceutical (8), humanities/social sciences (5), civil society (2), small merchants (2), government (2)

○ The Committee and its incumbent members plan to enhance policy compliance by widening access to the opinion-gathering process from the field when determining social distancing levels.

2. Lates Updates on Infection Prevention/Control Measures and Risk Assessments


□ As of April 9th (Fri), 00:00, 3,915 local outbreak cases were reported for the period beginning April 3rd (Sat) until April 9th (Fri), for an average of 559.3 new cases per day.

○ The average daily number of people in Greater Seoul who tested positive was 360.4. Compared to the preceding period of March 27th (Sat) to April 9th (Fri) (302.6 daily new cases), this represents an increase of 57.8 cases. Non-Greater Seoul reported 198.9 cases.


< Regional Breakdown of Infection Prevention/Control (04.03 – 04.09) >

Greater

Seoul

Chung

cheong

(North/

South)

Honam

Gyeong

sang
(North)

Gyeong

sang
(South)

Gangwon

Jeju

Daily New Cases
(Local Outbreaks, Headcount)

360.4

53.9

28.6

29.7

73.7

10.9

2.1

60 years old

84.1

12.1

8.7

10.6

18.3

3.6

0.3

Immediately available ICU beds (as of 04.08, 21:00)

368

54

46

39

79

17

8


□ As part of maintaining a stronger stance in infection prevention/control response, the government has expanded preemptive testing to proactively identify patients, proceed with epidemiological investigation, tracing, and isolation.

○ Just yesterday (April 8th, (Thu)), nation-wide large-scale testing has identified 46,692 cases through screening centers and 43,091 cases from temporary screening clinics.

- Anonymous testing is available at the 112 temporary screening clinics* currently in operation, and the clinics have reported 3,801,700 cases during the period of December 14th (Mon) to April 9th (Fri).
* Greater Seoul :
98 temporary screening clinics (Seoul (26), Gyeonggi-do (66), Incheon (6))
Non-Greater Seoul :
14 temporary screening clinics (Jeollabuk-do (6), Chungcheongnam-do (3), Busan (1), Daegu (1), Gwangju (1), Daejeon (1), Sejong (1))

- The temporary screening clinics across the nation tested 43,091 people yesterday (April 8th (Thu)) and reported 134 cases.


- The government has authorized the placement of 390 health workers at these clinics to support the rollout of the nation’s COVID-19 testing strategy.


□ Thanks to the continued efforts in securing sufficient beds for COVID-19 treatment, the number of hospital beds available remain stable.

○ Residential treatment centers are operating in a total of 32 locations with 5,553 beds (as of April 8th (Thu)). The centers are operating at 51.3% capacity with 2,704 beds available.


- Of this number, Greater Seoul has secured 4,715 beds, and the occupancy is at 52.5%, with 2,214 beds remaining available.

○ Hospitals dedicated to infectious disease have secured 8,627 beds (as of April 8th (Thu)). These hospitals are operating at 34.2% of their total nation-wide capacity, with 5,674 beds available, of which 2,645 are in Greater Seoul.

○ 428 quasi-ICU beds were available as of April 8th (Thu), with the national bed occupancy rate at 42.5%, making 246 beds available. In Greater Seoul, 150 beds were available.

○ 766 ICU beds have been secured as of April 8th (Thu), with 611 nation-wide and 368 in Greater Seoul remaining available.


< Bed Availability by Symptom Severity Grade (as of 04.08) >

Residential Treatment Centers

Hospitals for

Infectious Disease

Quasi-ICU Beds

ICU Beds

Acquired

Available

Acquired

Available

Acquired

Available

Acquired

Available

Nation-wide

5,553

2,704

8,627

5,674

428

246

766

611

Greater Seoul

4,715

2,241

3,870

2,645

283

150

472

368

Seoul

2,244

1,111

1,829

1,239

84

37

217

177

Gyeonggi

1,517

728

1,259

717

166

88

204

145

Incheon

382

170

782

689

33

25

51

46

Gangwon

-

-

362

223

5

5

24

17

Chungcheong
(North/South)

-

-

905

436

46

32

65

54

Honam

110

102

955

654

10

5

51

46

Gyeongsang (North)

-

-

1,360

993

28

15

47

39

Gyeongsang (South)

533

166

940

512

51

35

99

79

Jeju

195

195

235

211

5

4

8

8

○ Along with such efforts to secure sufficient beds, the government continues to support treatment and diagnostic testing by dispatching 1,040 health workers including doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to the medical facilities, residential treatment centers, temporary screening clinics, etc.


3. Population Movement Analysis


□ Central Disaster Management Headquarters (headed by Minister Kwon Deok-cheol) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare analyzed the data on mobile phone network traffic* provided by Statistics Korea to generate insight into the movement patterns.

* The activity of a subscriber of “S” Telecommunications Company mobile plan is recorded as an instance of movement when the person visits and stays for 30 minutes or longer in a municipality of a city, county, or district different from his or her actual place of residence.

○ On April 6th (Tue), there were 18.04 million movement instances in Greater Seoul, 14.51 million instances in Non-Greater Seoul, for a nation-wide total of 32.55 million instances.

○ 32.55 million represents a 2.6% (850,000 instances) decrease in comparison to the Tuesday (November 17th, 2020) immediately preceding the latest tightening of social distancing rules. The figure also is a 4.1% (1.4 million instances) reduction compared to last Tuesday (March 30th, 2021).

< Recent Population Movement Trends in Mobile Phone Network Traffic >

Week 0

(11.17(Tue))

Week 15

(03.02(Tue))

Week 16

(03.09(Tue))

Week 17

(03.16(Tue))

Week 18

(03.23(Tue))

Week 19

(03.30(Tue))

Week 20

(04.06(Tue))

Social Distancing

Before Level Adjustment

-

Greater Seoul : Level 2

Non-Greater Seoul : Level 1.5

Movement

Total

33.40 million

-

30.63 million

32.46 million

32.72 million

33.70 million

33.95 million

32.55 million

Compared to Preceding Week

-

2.2%

6.0%

0.8%

3.0%

0.7%

4.1%

Compared to Week 0

-

8.3%

2.8%

2.0%

0.9%

1.7%

2.6%

Greater Seoul

18.45 million

-

17.15 million

17.95 million

18.01 million

18.50 million

18.55 million

18.04 million

Compared to Preceding Week

-

0.0%

4.7%

0.3%

2.8%

0.2%

2.8%

Compared to Week 0

-

7.1%

2.7%

2.4%

0.3%

0.5%

2.3%

Non-Greater Seoul

14.94 million

-

13.48 million

14.51

million

14.71 million

15.20 million

15.40 million

14.51 million

Compared to Preceding Week

-

4.9%

7.7%

1.4%

3.4%

1.3%

5.8%

Compared to Week 0

-

9.8%

2.9%

1.6%

1.7%

3.1%

2.9%

※ Refer to Press Release Package of April 7th (Wed) for analysis of April 3rd – April 4th weekend population movement.


4. Managing Stronger Infection Prevention/Control Measures for Indoor Athletic Facilities


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) reviewed the special report from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister Hwang Hee) titled “Managing Stronger Infection Control/Prevention Measures for Indoor Athletic Facilities.”

○ The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPO), and local governments have been jointly inspecting indoor athletic facilities three times a week, while also providing equipments related to preventing infectious diseases* to privately-owned athletic facilities.

*
First supply (March, 2020) : 1,500 kits including hand sanitizers (184 local governments)
Second supply (August, 2020) : 180,000 anti-droplet masks (186 local governments)
Third supply (November, 2020) : 150,000 masks for infection prevention/control (194 local governments)

□ With continued reports of infections spreading through indoor athletic facilities, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is strengthening infection prevention/control measures for these facilities and reminding the business sector of its responsibilities and urging voluntary compliance to infection prevention/control.

○ As a first step in this strategy, the Ministry is focusing its regular inspections (3 times/week), which it had been performing jointly with KSPO and local governments since March, 2020, on the business types such as mudojang and group exercise gyms that are vulnerable to experiencing shortfalls in infection prevention/control.

- Indoor athletic facilities such as mudojang, and aerobics studios are by nature sites that operate with a risk of infection due to the activities having close physical contact, spoken instructions and commands that generate speech droplets.

- In consideration of these factors, should violations of infection prevention/control guidelines be discovered, authorities will issue administrative sanctions based on strict yet fair application of rules.

○ In parallel with these measures, the Ministry is conducting the “Safe Use of Indoor Athletic Facilities Campaign” for adherence to the standard infection prevention/control codes. Video content aimed at raising awareness of the codes was produced and disseminated in cooperation with businesses operating athletic facilities such as fitness clubs, yoga studios, and taekwondo academies.

- Additionally, authorities gathered (April 5th (Mon) - 18th (Sun)) best practice cases of voluntary COVID-19 infection prevention/control at indoor athletic facilities to encourage voluntary compliance to infection prevention/control programs while sharing these best practice strategies.

□ In addition to designing stronger codes for infection prevention/control and reinforcing inspection practices for vulnerable business types, the Ministry is also preparing plans to support the industry and strengthen communication channels so that voluntary implementation of infection prevention/control programs and awareness of responsibilities are enhanced in the field.


5. COVID-19 Update and Government Response (Regions : Seoul, Gyeonggi)


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) has reviewed the COVID-19 update and government response reports from the Seoul Metropolitan Government (Mayor Oh Se-hoon) and the province of Gyeonggi-do (Governor Lee Jaemyung).


○ Site inspections will be conducted for places of worship in Seoul this weekend (April 11th (Sun)).

- Compliance to infection prevention/control codes for the adjusted social distancing rules will be inspected at 1,002 places of worship where violations have been recorded or complaints have been filed.

- The focus of the inspection efforts at these places of worship will be compliance to major infection prevention/control codes such as 2 meters or more distance between congregants, attendance within 20% of seating capacity for regularly scheduled service/mass, in addition to the ban on face-to-face meetings and dining.

- Violations will be immediately corrected on-site, and administrative sanctions such as bans on gatherings and fines will be issued based upon the strict yet fair application of the rules.

○ Since April 1st (Thu), the provincial government of Gyeonggi-do is supporting the emotional recovery of the members of various COVID-19 response teams who are experiencing emotional fatigue due to the need to continuously maintain response readiness for the prolonged pandemic.

- Any member of the response teams including health workers and epidemic intelligence officers has access to these services that include 24-hours consultation sign-up, opportunities for more in-depth consultations, and spaces for dialogue and sharing experiences.

- Services can be accessed through the Gyeonggi Mental Health Welfare Center website,* and a monitoring program is being planned to proactively identify high-risk groups to connect with more in-depth consultation options.

* https://www.mentalhealth.or.kr/COVID19_counsel


6. Self-Isolation Management and Social Distancing Updates


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) reviewed the “Self-Isolation Management and Social Distancing Updates” report from the Ministry of Interior and Safety (Minister Jeon Hae-cheol).

○ As of April 8th (Thu), 18:00, there were 72,579 people in self-isolation. Of this number, 24,980 are international travelers, and 47,599 are local outbreak cases.

- The total number of people in isolation had decreased by 903 in comparison to the previous day.

□ On April 8th (Thu), local governments inspected a total of 15,526 sites in 23 business areas, including 6,826 restaurants/coffee shops, and 1,253 karaoke bars. There were 25 instances of non-compliance to infection prevention/control codes that required on-site guidance.

○ Further, there was a special late-night inspection in cooperation with the Korean National Police Agency and law enforcement (133 teams, 778 inspection officers) for 3,671 entertainment facilities including night clubs and gamsung jujeom (restaurants where patrons can dance and socializing is tacitly encouraged).

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