Asia Minute: South Korea Increases Coronavirus-related Restrictions

Sep 1, 2020

Locations around the world continue to adjust their policies to halt the spread of the coronavirus. This week, South Korea has again tightened restrictions on movement — while targeting younger adults.

South Korea’s government has increased distancing rules — with an eye on a specific demographic.

Health authorities say nearly 40% of new cases of COVID-19 in the country last week were in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Couple this with a hesitation by the administration of President Moon Jae-in to impose the strictest level of shutdown, and the result is an unusual combination of rules.

Indoor golfing has been banned for the first time, and so has shooting pool — health officials say both activities are popular with that age group.

Coffee shops are restricted to takeout and delivery — not allowing people to linger. But bakeries are still allowed to serve coffee in small cafes.

Restaurants are still open for dine-in eating — although they have to close by 9 p.m.

Local media report many conservative opposition lawmakers want tighter rules, and so do some medical groups, while small businesses favor the looser restrictions.

The government landed somewhere in the middle. The Moon administration moved the severity level of the country’s three-tier alert system up from a two, but not to the highest level of three.

It settled on the level of 2.5 until Sunday — when the government will re-evaluate the situation.