The six-day holiday starting from today to next Tuesday can be an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate for people who have been practicing social distancing for a long period of time to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On the other hand, it could also be a dangerous time when people can easily let their guard down against the virus.
Over the holiday, as many as 180,000 travelers are predicted to visit Jeju Island while all accommodations have been fully booked in Gyeongju and resort areas in the eastern coast. Recreational forests, arboretums, and outdoor sports facilities across the country are expected be crowded with tourists. In a survey conducted by the Korea Transport Institute on Wednesday, 38.5% of the respondents said they have plans for an outing or to go on a trip during the holiday.
Concerns are rising that the holiday could serve as a catalyst that fuels mass infections in the country. New cases in the country have been going down from hundreds to about a dozen a day largely thanks to the cooperation and the patience of the citizens. The situation, however, can worsen at any time if people slacken their efforts during the holiday by getting too excited about the sunny spring weather and the first taste of freedom after a long break. Experts say the invisible virus explodes in a stealthy and silent manner.
South Korean health authorities, which have extended social distancing measures until next Tuesday, reportedly consider the holiday as the last hurdle before shifting to a daily quarantine routine.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education is weighing the timing and method to open schools sometime in May first with students in upper grades, including ninth and twelfth graders. We must not let our guard down yet but take preventive measures and practice social distancing in order to open schools and go back to our daily lives. We should keep in mind that by allowing ourselves to let loose, we could cause group infections and a second wave of COVID-19 but also hinder students from going to school again. The COVID-19 crisis is not over until it is over.