The unprecedented Level 4 social distancing has been implemented in Seoul and nearby regions since Monday but the government’s unclear guidelines are adding confusion.
When the Central Disaster Management Headquarters said on Friday that three work colleagues should not get a ride in the same taxi because it is considered as a private gathering, some people criticized why a taxi is not allowed even if a bus or subway is. Then, the headquarters changed their words on Monday. “It should be reviewed case by case. If a colleague gets off the taxi one by one on their way home, it is not a private gathering. If they are sharing a ride to go to a gathering, it is considered as one,” said Son Yeong-rae, the head of the social strategy department of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.
This is not the only example of unclear guidelines. Whether three people can shop together depends on situations. The government said limits on private gatherings apply to shopping but if it is for essential items between families sharing the livelihood and living together there is no limit. Up to 100,000 won of fine is imposed in case of a violation of the limits. Many people are suspecting how such detailed guidelines can be observed on site.
It was also criticized that the showers of golf courses are not limited while the showers of indoor sports facilities, such as gyms, are closed. “We assumed golf courses would be safer because they are outdoors while overlooking their showers. We will discuss whether or not to close the showers of outdoor sports facilities that are currently operating,” said Son.
“New social distancing guidelines were created based on the assumption of sufficient vaccination rates. The government forcefully introduced them, adding more complexity to what was already complicated,” said Uhm Joong-sik, a professor of the division of infectious diseases at Gachon University Gil Medical Center.