SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Friday decided to extend the tightened social-distancing rules for three more weeks to tackle the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told the COVID-19 response meeting that the Omicron spread gained speed two weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays that continue from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 this year.
The toughened social-distancing guideline will be maintained until Feb. 6, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Under the guideline, the maximum number of people allowed for private gatherings will be raised from four to six nationwide, but the business hour curfew will be put in place among multi-use facilities.
Restaurants, cafes, indoor sports facilities and karaoke as well as nighttime entertainment facilities, such as bars and nightclubs, will be permitted to open until 9:00 p.m. local time.
The business hour of movie theaters, concert halls, Internet cafes, private cram schools, casinos and message parlors will be restricted to 10:00 p.m.
Those who are not fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter restaurants and cafes alone or use take-out and delivery services.
The vaccine pass program, which allows the fully-inoculated people to enter crowded facilities, will be implemented in 15 facilities that include nighttime entertainment facilities, restaurants, cafes, indoor sports facilities, Internet cafes, libraries, museums, casinos, massage parlors, movie theaters and large-scale department stores and discount outlets.
In the latest tally, the country has reported 4,542 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of infections to 683,566.
The health authorities expected the Omicron variant to become a dominant strain here later this month.