South Korea social-distancing measures to last into January

South Korean social-distancing measures meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus will extend into January, the nation’s government announced Sunday.

The measures will be in place an additional six days through Jan. 3, Reuters reported. The nation announced the measures before Christmas, including the closure of ski resorts and a prohibition on more than four people gathering at once in the Seoul region.

“We will observe the situation over the next week and decide whether to adjust the social distancing measures before Jan. 3 when the special quarantine measures for the year-end holidays terminate,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said on Sunday, according to the news service.


The announcement comes the day after South Korean officials reported a total of 970 new cases of the virus for the day. The figure marks a five-day low after officials reported a single-day high of 1,241 infections Friday, Reuters reported. Overall, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency has reported 56,872 cases of the virus and 808 deaths.

Some businesses will also make slight alterations to existing restrictions, such as applying the rules already in place allowing only take-out and delivery to items like coffee and drinks as well as food, according to Kwon.

South Korea was considered an international success story for its handling of the first wave of the virus in the spring. In fall and winter, however, cases surged, as they did in much of the rest of the world.

“Unless the outbreak can be contained now, it has come to the critical point of considering escalating social-distancing measures to the third level,” President Moon Jae-in said in a press conference earlier this month.