So, the tightened social distancing restrictions in the greater capital area
it’s surely short of shifting the country up to the highest level three in the three-tier system, but it definitely feels like where this country has ever been before in terms of anti-virus measures.
What can we do and what can’t we do? Where can we go and where should we avoid?
Our Kim Mok-yeon joins me in the studio to clarify things for us.
First off, no more dine-in’s at restaurants after 9pm in the greater Seoul area, is it?

That’s right, Connyoung.
Customers will not be able to eat or drink inside restaurants, bakeries or bars from 9 PM to 5 AM starting this Sunday.
Only deliveries and take out services will be allowed during those times.
So this basically means that pubs and bars in the capital area will not be able to do business.
And for hours outside the restricted time frame, customers will have to wear masks, keep a distance from others and write down their personal information upon entry.
At franchised coffee shops, nobody will be able to drink or eat inside during this period.
Only takeout or delivery will be possible due to recent cluster infections linked to franchised coffee outlets.
Customers picking up a coffee to go will also have to abide by basic quarantine measures.

What do we mean by franchised coffee shops? So, no more chitchats with friends over coffee at Starbucks’s or Holly’s but am I still allowed to do that at my favorite mom-and-pop cafe near my place?

Yes, you can, Connyoung.
Small sized cafe’s owned by a single proprietor will not be included, as it only includes franchises and stores managed by large companies.
As for bakery cafe’s such as Paris Baguette or Dunkin Doughnuts, authorities will define the characteristics of each store to determine whether they will be part of the bakery or franchise cafes category so it will differ from store to store.
So, some will be able to operate during the daytime, while some will be banned from allowing customers to eat in.

So, fitness gyms, billiard halls – all indoor sports facilities will be shut and after school cram schools will turn to remote learning, but what about outdoor sports venues? Are we to avoid those places as well?

There’s a total ban on the opening of gyms, billiard clubs, swimming pools, tennis courts and table tennis facilities because of the high risk of droplet infections during workouts.
But outdoor golf clubs, soccer fields and other outdoor sports facilities can operate as normal, if basic quarantine measures are kept.

Also, as part of efforts to minimize infections amongst the vulnerable, such as the elderly, authorities are also banning visits to nursing homes. Day care centers will also be advised to shut down, but if they were to operate, people will not be able to engage in any activities that could lead to droplet infections.

So, all in all, how many businesses are expected to be affected by the latest measures?

It’s estimated to affect 380-thousand restaurants and bakeries; 63-thousand after school academies and 28-thousand indoor gyms in the area.

Right. So, although they’re the toughest social distancing restrictions this country has seen so far AND are due to impact more than 470-thousand businesses in teh Seoul area, the health minister today described it as the “last stand” before lockdown steps.
Now, how do medical experts feel about today’s announcement? Do they think it’s enough to curb the surge or should the government raise it to the max level three?

Well, an expert in the medical industry says though it’s early to predict, the measures could be helpful in slowing down the daily figures.
But it will depend public participation.

“The new policies will bring substantial results if the public not only abides by the rules, but also takes preemptive measures to minimize face-to-face transactions. The role of every citizen will be crucial.”

However, another expert claims that the latest measures aren’t strong enough to control the virus, and stressed the importance of the government’s policies to fully embrace the recommendations of the nation’s health authorities. That would be to raise social distancing level to three.

“I think we need a complete alignment of the government’s socio-economic policies with the recommendations of the KCDC. “

The expert also said that we should keep tabs on the number of imported cases from high-risk countries.
She said it’s important to reduce any chance of further infections from visitors from abroad, and pointed that travel limitations could also be necessary.

Absolutely. Like you said, public participation is key for the success of any social distancing measure.
Thanks, Mokyeon, for clarifying things for us. Make sure you go straight home right after work – have a safe weekend.

Thanks, you too, Connyoung.

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