The South Korean government appealed the court order exempting private academic institutions (hakwon) from vaccine pass mandates in view of the fact that vaccine passes are necessary for going back to normal amid raging pandemic. Yet the government stated that it would revise those who are subject to vaccination mandate and consider expanding the scope of exempted people from vaccination, in view of a controversy over an infringement upon rights of the unvaccinated.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Wednesday that it would appeal the Seoul Administrative Court’s order issued a day earlier which exempted hakwon, reading rooms, and study cafes from mandatory vaccine pass requirements. “Lifting vaccine pass mandates would drive up the number of infections, which would then require the government to again impose restrictions on social gatherings and business activities, inevitably having an adverse effect on people’s economic livelihoods,” said Son Young-rae, director of Social Response Department at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. “Our argument would be to highlight the need for expansion of vaccine pass mandates, which is critical to going back to normal.”
Should the court dismiss the ministry’s appeal, the unvaccinated can go freely to hakwon, etc. for months until the court of first instance renders a ruling on the merits with regard to blanket vaccination mandates. The health authority is preparing a contingency plan in the event the court dismisses the appeal, which includes introducing density limits in private schools by, for example, leaving a seat unoccupied in between each other.
The government is also reviewing ways to give exemption to the unvaccinated who, despite wanting to get vaccinated, cannot because of medical reasons from vaccine pass mandates. Currently, only those who have developed symptoms such as anaphylaxis shock, myocarditis, pericarditis, and thrombosis after getting their first shot are exempted from booster and third dose mandates. Minister of the Interior and Safety Jeon Hae-cheol said that the government would adopt a balanced approach to minimize inconvenience experienced by people in the process of introducing vaccine pass mandates.
Meanwhile, the government announced that it has secured 150.44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which include 70.44 million doses that were not secured last year.
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