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Hard-hit businesses to benefit from eased Covid rules: S.Korean PM

South Korean health authorities have said they plan to relax restrictions next month as part of a transition to “living with Covid-19” as the rate of fully vaccinated people nears 70 per cent.

SNS | Seoul, South Korea |

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday that hard-hit businesses and low-risk facilities will be the first to benefit from eased Covid-19 restrictions starting next month.

Kim made the remark during a meeting of a government-civilian panel overseeing the transition to life after Covid-19, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“The return to normal will proceed in stages and systematically,” he said.

“We will take drastic and active steps to ease the virus restrictions starting with businesses and neglected groups that have suffered greatly (during the pandemic), and facilities with a low risk of spreading infections.”

Health authorities have said they plan to relax restrictions next month as part of a transition to “living with Covid-19” as the rate of fully vaccinated people nears 70 per cent.

Kim said that in the early stages of the transition eased restrictions will have to apply only to the fully vaccinated.

“Vaccinations help prevent infections and greatly reduce the number of serious cases and deaths, so it is an inevitable choice,” he said.

The Prime Minister stressed, however, that it will be important for facilities to still follow basic antivirus precautions once the mandates are lifted.

A new panel established last week drew up a plan for a gradual return to normalcy in the long term, eventually lifting sweeping restrictions and reopening the economy in November on the expectation that 80 per cent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated.

According to the new plan, in the Seoul area, gatherings of up to eight people will be allowed if a group includes four fully vaccinated people, and in other regions, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather.

South Korea has implemented a four-level social distancing scheme, with the greater Seoul area currently under the strictest level, which includes curfews on restaurant hours and caps on the size of private gatherings.

The government plans to announce specific guidelines for the return to normal next week based on discussions at Friday’s meeting.

(With IANS inputs)