SEOUL, Nov 1 (Reuters) – New guidelines aimed toward shifting South Koreans towards “residing with COVID-19” got here into impact on Monday, with the easing of a variety of curbs and the introduction of vaccine passports at high-risk venues akin to gyms, saunas and bars.

The swap of focus comes as greater than 75% of the nation’s inhabitants has been absolutely vaccinated. The primary section of the revised guidelines is because of final for a month, with plans to scrap all restrictions by February.

“The return path to on a regular basis life, to which we’re taking step one right now, is a path we have by no means been on,” Well being Minister Kwon Deok-cheol instructed an infra-agency COVID-19 assembly.

He requested folks to maintain carrying masks, usually ventilate rooms and get a check if signs emerge, noting that there are nonetheless considerations a couple of potential resurgence of recent circumstances as a result of danger elements akin to unvaccinated folks, future declines in immunity among the many vaccinated, and year-end gatherings.

Whereas by no means underneath lockdown, South Korea has been battling a fourth wave of infections since July, when the federal government imposed tighter gathering and social distancing restrictions.

Amongst a raft of modifications, working hour curfews on eating places and cafes have been lifted, and outside sports activities occasions shall be allowed to host spectators at 50% of capability.

As much as 100 folks can attend musicals or concert events no matter vaccination standing, whereas gyms will now not must restrict treadmill speeds or ban taking part in music with excessive beats per minute throughout group workouts.

Nevertheless, visits to high-risk venues akin to bars and night time golf equipment, indoor gyms, saunas and karaoke bars would require proof of vaccination, or a unfavourable COVID-19 check outcome from inside 48 hours.

Well being ministry spokesman Son Younger-rae mentioned the variety of new circumstances might double or triple in coming weeks. The medical system was designed to cowl as much as 5,000 new circumstances a day, but when the numbers rose to close 10,000, the federal government would halt the easing course of and take emergency measures, Son mentioned.

South Korea reported 1,686 new COVID-19 circumstances as of Sunday, for a complete of 366,386, with 2,858 deaths total.

Reporting by Josh Smith and Hyonhee Shin; enhancing by Richard Pullin

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