South Korea keeps social distancing curbs ahead of major national holiday

FILE PHOTO: A government official sanitizes a street where day workers gathered to seek a job amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as day workers look on in Seoul, South Korea, September 17, 2020. REUTERS.Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea on Sunday extended level 2 social distancing for a week until Sept. 27, which limits indoor gatherings to below 50 and outdoor to less than 100, and may tighten limits for the Chuseok holiday when people traditionally reunite with families.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the level 2 restrictions need to be kept ahead of Chuseok as “cases with untraceable origins are steadily increasing and fewer tests being carried out on weekends means we should be on high alert.”

Social distancing policies for the Sept 30-Oct 2 holiday will be announced in the coming days.

South Korea reported 82 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Saturday, the lowest daily infections since mid August, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the total, 72 were locally transmitted, bringing the total tally to 22,975, with 383 deaths.

Clusters of infections from a church and political rally sparked a second wave of outbreaks in August, driving the daily tally to more than 400, before the numbers began dropping to the low 100s in early September.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Chris Reese and Michael Perry