South Korea on Tuesday reported 230 new COVID-19 cases, 202 of which were locally transmitted.
137 of these infections were from the capital region.
Seoul city alone saw around 90 cases, including 9 from a cluster infection at a sauna in Seocho-gu district.
The rapid spread in the capital has brought this week’s average number of daily cases in the greater Seoul area to a little over 110.
In response, the South Korean government is bumping up the capital region’s distancing level to 1.5.
The tightened measures will start on midnight Thursday and last for two weeks.
During that time, there will be a stricter limit on the number of customers in facilities like wedding halls and funeral homes.
Also, customers can no longer eat in singing rooms or dance in clubs.
Religious gatherings and sports events can only seat 30-percent of their total capacity.
Schools will go back to having a mandatory attendance cap of two-thirds, and protests and festivals are limited to under 100 people.
But some say that to effectively curb the spread, the capital should skip straight to level 2.
Under level 2, cafes and restaurants can’t have visitors after 9 p.m., and entertainment facilities like bars and singing rooms have to shut down.
However, health officials say tightening the measures further would hit businesses hard.

“Under level 1.5, most businesses can continue to operate but just with a limited number of visitors. Level 2, on the other hand, handicaps many businesses from operating at all. So our day-to-day life would be greatly restricted and threatened.”

Regions outside the capital have also seen spikes in COVID-19.
Chonnam National University Hospital in Gwangju has locked down its wards after reporting 27 confirmed patients in less than a week.
The hospital will halt all emergency care until this Sunday.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News

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