Despite the health authority’s request otherwise, the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions has decided to push ahead with protest rallies in groups of less 100 currently at major locations nationwide including Seoul and Busan on Sunday.
At a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Friday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said, “The organizers of the rallies pledged to follow quarantine guidelines, but there is no guarantee that such guidelines will be thoroughly followed on site,” adding, “Protest rallies held currently at multiple places could have strong potential to trigger mass transmission of COVID-19.”
When criticized by the main opposition party at a National Assembly session on the day, Presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min said, “The government will strongly push to ban the rallies. If a confirmed Covid-19 case or death occurs because the leaders of the organizing groups fail to follow order from the public health authority, they will inevitably face criticism.”
Ruing Democratic Party Chairman Lee Nak-yon also urged the KCTU to refrain from holding massive rallies by responding to people’s concern, adding, “There are no liberals or conservatives when it comes to quarantine and disease prevention.”
However, the KCTU is determined to push ahead with the national workers’ convention on Sunday. According to police, the umbrella labor union is set to hold 32 protest rallies hosted by 24 subsidiary industrial unions at various key locations in central Seoul, including Yeouido, Jongno and Mapo on Sunday afternoon.
Sixteen conservative civic groups also applied for 47 protest rallies in various locations including Jongno and Seocho on the day. As the Seoul metropolitan government bans a public assembly of 100 people or more, the size of assemblies registered to seek permission has been capped at 99 people.
“If more than 100 people gather, or if they fail to follow quarantine guidelines including social distancing of at least 2 meters and mask wearing, we will immediately disperse assemblies and take stern action,” the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.
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