The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is adjusting its municipal social distancing level back down to 1, effective as of midnight on Mon, Oct. 12. It will be implemented indefinitely until any occurrence of sudden change, such as a surge in the number of confirmed cases.
Firstly, Seoul’s main municipal COVID-19 prevention rules will be relaxed. The citywide ban on gatherings, meetings, and events with +50/+100 persons (indoors/outdoors, respectively) will be lifted and citizens will be recommended to refrain. Audiences will be permitted for sporting events, provided that they take up no more than 30% occupancy.
Additionally, the current ban on gatherings at high-risk facilities that have been shut down will be lifted and such establishments will have to observe compulsory COVID-19 prevention rules (limited gathering). However, gatherings at door-to-door sales promotion halls will still be prohibited considering the ages of attendees.
Other rules will also be altered. Churches in Seoul, for which only online worship service has been permitted, will now be allowed to partially hold church worship service. However, church breakout sessions, events, and meals will still be prohibited.
The order on compulsory disease control and prevention (limited gathering) for 16 high-risk multi-use facilities will be maintained. Accordingly, the owners and users of such facilities must observe rules, such as wearing a face mask and signing the visitor log.
There are 16 types of facilities where the order of compulsory disease control and prevention continually applies, including restaurants/cafes/bakeries (150 m2 or larger), water parks, amusement parks, performance halls, movie theaters, PC bangs (Internet cafe), private academies (less than 300 students), job training centers, study cafes, amusement arcades, religious facilities, indoor wedding halls, bathhouses/saunas, indoor sports facilities, multi/DVD rooms, and funeral homes.
In particular, customers must be seated 1 meter apart between tables in restaurants, cafes, and bakeries (150 m2 or larger). If such seating arrangements are not possible, establishments must abide by one of the following rules: ① Have customers sit at least one seat apart; ② Have customers sit at least one table apart; ③ Install partition screens between tables.
Indoor and outdoor public facilities operated by the SMG, such as cultural facilities, sports facilities, and parks including Hangang Parks, will re-open to the public. There will still be restrictions, such as limited visitors to half capacity and compulsory face masks.
Social welfare facilities, including welfare centers, senior centers, and day care centers for the disabled, will also resume operation. However, day and night care facilities for the elderly are still recommended to close their doors. Facilities related to adolescents and life-long education centers will prepare to resume their operation gradually starting Wed, Oct. 14.
Children’s day care centers will not resume operation immediately, taking precautions for toddlers’ safety. The SMG is currently reviewing whether they can open starting Mon, Oct. 19 after observing cases of infection following the post-Chuseok incubation period until Sun, Oct. 18.
Meanwhile, the SMG announced that it is extending its citywide mandatory mask ordinance that has been placed since Aug. 24, and it will examine the current state of mask-wearing through concentrated inspection of facilities with a high risk of collective infection. Additionally, in accordance with the legal grounds for fines effective as of Oct. 13, the SMG will establish the detailed principles, such as the penalty standard of fines, and start to impose fines starting Nov. 13 after the end of the grace period.
Starting Oct. 12, with the ban on gathering of +100 persons, gatherings of less than 100 persons will be required to observe 7 items of disease control and prevention (e.g. temperature checks, visitor logs, face masks, social distancing of at least 2 meters). The existing ban on downtown gatherings will be remain to be enforced.