Seoul will see night life come to standstill from Saturday. Most convenience facilities will close at 9 p.m. for two weeks through midnight on December 18. It is the strongest measure ever that has been taken since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Korea.
The Seoul metropolitan government held an emergency briefing Friday, and announced quarantine measures that call for complete suspension of late night hour operation of general purpose facilities including stores, movies, PC cafes, discount stores and department stores. The measure is a level equivalent to social distancing Level 2.5, which is higher than the “2+α” level currently in effect in the Seoul metropolitan region. The new rule exempts small markets measuring less than 300 sq. meters where consumers can do grocery shopping. Food delivery from restaurants will also be allowed to continue even after 9 p.m.
Some of the public transportation services will also suspend operation. Intra-city bus service will reduce operation by 30 percent from the ordinary level after 9 p.m. starting from Saturday, while subway service will cut operation by 30 percent after 9 p.m. beginning Tuesday. Public facilities including museums, art galleries, performing halls, and libraries will also suspend operation. All middle and high schools in the capital city will switch to distance learning for two weeks from Monday.
The intensity of COVID-19 transmission has gone effectively out of control. Korea saw the daily number of confirmed cases hit 629 as of Friday midnight. It is the first time in nine months that the number surpassed 600, and the figure is the third highest ever on a daily basis.