The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) decided to extend its current social distancing measures for another week after negotiating with Gyeonggi Province and Incheon.
Originally, the SMG had planned to allow private gatherings of up to 6 persons while maintaining level 2 social distancing, but after an emergency COVID-19 protocol meeting with district officers, it was decided that in light of the serious and dangerous situation, loosening the current social distancing measures would lead to greater consequences and wider spread of COVID-19.
On June 29, Seoul saw 375 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily high since the beginning of the year, and on June 30, the current count of new cases is 274, which means that it is likely that the number of new cases will exceed 300. The Seoul metropolitan area has seen a rise in the spread of the Delta variant, prompting much attention.
District officers also expressed concerns over the implementation of the newly adjusted social distancing measures. Some declared that the current situation required social distancing to be at level 3 and opposed the newly adjusted measures while others expressed the need for strengthened contact tracing in light of infections by the younger population, the uncertainty of previous contacts, and the high proportion of those newly infected without symptoms.
Starting July 1 for two weeks, the SMG will perform joint inspections in cooperation with districts, focusing on restaurants, cafes, karaoke rooms and private academies where infections have been numerous.
The SMG will take zero-tolerance measures if people are caught violating the COVID-19 protocol, and thereby block the spread among high-risk facilities. In addition, the SMG will elevate its testing capacities by making pre-emptive tests available in crowded places.
The SMG will extend the hours of designated screening clinics in public health centers for the time being to 9 PM during weekdays and 6 PM during weekends. The SMG aims to cut the spread by installing screening clinics where people are concentrated so that more people are tested in a short amount of time.
Above all, the most basic but effective barrier to COVID-19 is the wearing of sanitary masks, proper ventilation, and disinfection. The SMG will try to make the citizens more aware of the risks and more careful.
The SMG apologizes to small businesses and the self-employed for prolonging restrictions on business activities and requiring personal sacrifices.
However, if we do not safely overcome this difficulty, a more serious challenge will follow.
Thank you to all citizens of Seoul for your active participation, cooperation, and understanding.