Pandemic curbs eased as South Korea switches to 'living with COVID-19'

Under 3-phase scheme, government plans to end all coronavirus restrictions by February.

Pandemic curbs eased as South Korea switches to 'living with COVID-19'

South Korea on Friday announced more relaxing coronavirus curbs as of next week as the country steps into the "living with COVID-19" scheme, local media reported.

Announcing the first phase of the three-stage plan, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the government wants to gradually bring people's lives back to normal.

"Starting on Nov. 1, our community takes the first step toward recovery of daily lives, but we must be aware that this is not the end in our virus fight, but a new beginning," Yonhap News Agency quoted Kim as saying while chairing a meeting of the COVID-19 response committee at Seoul.

Under the first phase starting on Monday, people will be allowed to gather in groups of up to 10 in the capital city and surrounding areas while up to 12 in groups in other parts of the country regardless of vaccination.

Curfew on operation hours for businesses will also be lifted.

People will continue to wear masks indoors, though, according to the agency report.

The visitors going to bars, nightclubs and indoor gyms must be vaccinated and they will show their vaccination certificate or negative COVID-19 test result if visiting high-risk facilities.

Under the new plan, the country plans to end all COVID-19 restrictions by February.

The new measures came amid a recent rise in new cases as South Korea recorded 2,124 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to 360,536.

Adding nine more fatalities, the country’s death toll also raised to 2,817, according to the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

So far 41.03 million people, or 79.9% of the country with a 52 million population, received their first doses of a coronavirus vaccine, while 37.59 million, or 73.2%, are fully vaccinated.