Store owners welcomed the government’s easing of social distancing regulations on Monday by extending operating hours to midnight and permitting up to 10 persons for gatherings.
“I think it’s a fair compromise in terms of social distancing to open business up to midnight,” said Park (age 57), who runs a beer pub in Mapo District of Seoul. “We are seeing gradual growth of sales and customers, although not as much as before the pandemic,” said Choi (age 66), who runs a restaurant in Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul.
Health authorities have eased social distancing regulations by extending the number of persons for social gatherings by eight to 10, and operating hours of restaurants and cafes by 10 p.m. to midnight. The regulations are effective until April 17.
Office dinners are coming back as well. “People are setting up dinners at work,” said Hwang (age 35), an office worker.
Commercial districts adjacent to universities are showing signs of recovery as they look forward to news of social distancing being scrapped altogether. “We are seeing new shops opening nearby, which is something we haven’t seen for months during the pandemic,” said Lee (age 37) who runs a café/restaurant near Korea University in the northern part of Seoul.
Citizens are showing mixed reactions towards eased social distancing. “I’m not sure if social distancing is effective at all when the pandemic has peaked out,” said Kim Su-hyun (age 24), a university student. “It’s been a hassle to deal with shorter operating hours at restaurants, and I hope they scrap the regulations in a few weeks.”
There are some people who remain skeptical, however. “We are seeing many people who don’t even bother to get tested for COVID-19 amid news of a new variant that might become widespread,” said Lee Dawon (age 26). “It’s too early to ease social distancing at this point.”
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