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Lessening social distancing requires heavier sense of responsibility

Lessening social distancing requires heavier sense of responsibility

Posted January. 18, 2021 07:48,   

Updated January. 18, 2021 07:48


The South Korean government has decided to maintain the current level of social distancing over the next two weeks by Jan. 31 with the aim of preventing COVID-19 from further spreading. The Seoul metropolitan area will stay under Level 2.5 with the rest of the country under Level 2. Five people or more are still not allowed to have a private gathering. Cram schools, indoor sports facilities, and karaoke establishments can open starting from today on the conditions that they have only a limited number of visitors by time slot and close at 9 p.m. Offline religious gatherings are permitted if they involve a small group of attendees.

Over the past several days, the spread of the coronavirus has slowed down compared to the peak at which the country saw a daily number of 1,000 new cases. Having said that, it is too early to say that the pandemic is completely under control. Given that the daily number of newly confirmed cases has recorded more than 500 over the past six days, social distancing is supposed to be level 2.5 not only in the Seoul metropolitan area but also across the rest of the nation according to the related guidelines. The pandemic can rebound to speed up anytime anywhere considering that traffic volume increased by 0.8 percent and 3.7 percent around the capital city and across the rest of the country, respectively, over the previous week even before citizens start migrating around Lunar New Year holidays.

Asked why the government partly lessened the social distancing restrictions despite such risks, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun answered that it was all about helping those desperate who stand at the edge of the cliff. Cram schools, karaoke establishments and indoor gyms should have be more responsible for quarantine as they are freer of restrictions. They should keep the number of visitors under control, ventilate indoor air and ensure sanitation & hygiene on a regular basis. As restrictions are eased on cafes, people are allowed to eat and drink indoor. They should make sure to wear their face masks and minimize their visit time. It should be noted that the number of new COVID-19 cases associated with restaurants, which are allowed to offer dine-in service, rose to 318 patients, higher by eight times compared to last month’s figure.

With no signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic being witnessed across the globe, highly infectious new variants are posing a new threat to the global village that is already weary of the coronavirus. The United States has up to 4,000 deaths on a daily basis, steering into an uncontrollable state but the pace of vaccination is not able to keep up. France last week made an aggressive decision to order citizens to stay home after 6 p.m. There is a high likelihood that Japan may cancel the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, which was already postponed to open this year instead. Experts warn that a fourth wave of the pandemic could sweep South Korea in spring if it fails to keep the number of new cases at bay. It matters how well-prepared the nation is to stay firm at the quarantine forefronts of the long-lasting COVID-19 war. The South Korean government should revamp the social distancing guidelines to reflect the realities of the street economy and recover public trust; build up medical infrastructure constantly; and devise a detailed vaccination plan.