Many people, particularly young adults, have been flocking to new venues such as motels to have a drink as they have been unable to spend time at restaurants or bars after 9 p.m. due to the government’s enhanced social distancing guidelines aimed at helping contain the spread of COVID-19, according to Seoul city officials.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) said it will carry out a crackdown on the sale of alcohol at motels and other forms of accommodation in its desperate efforts to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease.
“The Level 2.5 guidelines that ban restaurants and bars from operating after 9 p.m. have led to a balloon effect ― people now gather at accommodations, and drink and play games there,” Park Yoo-mi, a disease control officer at the SMG, said in a media briefing.
The government adopted a three-tier social distancing plan on June 28, and raised the distancing guidelines from Level 1 to Level 2 for the entire country on Aug. 23, as the nation’s daily new cases have been jumping by triple digits every day since Aug. 13.
This was raised again to the so-called Level 2.5 in the Seoul metropolitan area Aug. 31 amid fears of more outbreaks in the densely populated region. Under the Level 2.5 guidelines, restaurants and bars can operate until 9 p.m., and only takeout and delivery is permitted after 9 p.m. With regard to franchise coffee chains, bakeries and ice cream parlors, only takeout and delivery is permitted.
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Following the implementation of those measures, people started searching for alternative places to drink, flocking to Han River parks and other outdoor places as well as motels.
According to the SMG, the number of visitors to Han River parks increased by up to 40 percent from last year.
The SMG restricted access to the more crowded areas of Han River parks, Tuesday, but some people are still coming to the parks, while others are choosing to visit motels instead, according to officials.
“We know that people, particularly the young ones, are experiencing inconveniences due to the Level 2.5 guidelines, but we ask them to actively participate in the social distancing campaign to protect the health of themselves, their families and their neighbors,” Park said, stressing that outdoor spaces are not free from the risk of infection.
Source: The Korea Times