NOW for MORE on the NEW RESTRICTIONS on social gatherings to mark the end of the yearhere in the country I have our Kim Ji-yeon in the studio.
Ji-yeon do tell us about the latest preventative measures.
Municipal governments in the capital Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi-do Province announced a new administrative order on Monday to ban gatherings of five or more people in their regions.
The strident restriction on assembly is to last until January 3rd and it comes in a time usually considered a peak season for year-end gatherings and events in Korea.
The measure is aimed at trying to reduce the risk of infection during the winter season as people tend to gather and crowd indoors and today the measure was expanded for the rest of the country starting Thursday on Christmas eve.
The move is considered the most severe social distancing measure seen so far this year.
It's stronger than under the highest level three social distancing scheme, in which gatherings of ten or more people are prohibited.
(Korean , Dec. 21) YTN
"Right now, the current state of Seoul is equivalent to the calm before the storm. If we can't curb the number of infections, the scenes in New York and London, where the streets are empty and the cities are under lockdowns, can also take place in Seoul."
Under the new measure, only gatherings of four or fewer people are allowed regardless of whether they're held indoors or outdoors and it'll apply to all kinds of private gatherings, corporate workshops as well as gatherings of family members.
Exceptionally, however, wedding and funeral ceremonies, given their nature, will still be permitted as long as the number of participants is fewer than 50 in the greater Seoul area.
In the capital Seoul, that number is lower at 30.
Gatherings of family members that are living and registered in the same resident are also permitted.
Also exceptions to the rule include gatherings held to execute a public duty and gatherings for running a business, exams and surveys that could not be delayed or postponed are not applicable to this measure.
For instance, the gatherings of people for the making of a movie or TV program, stockholders' meeting military training or carrying out a safety training of firefighters are not restricted.
So the rule are mainly targeted at private gatherings and businesses can operate.
So what are the consequences IF CAUGHT VIOLATING the restrictions on social gatherings?
Those caught violating the order both business owners and customers are to be penalized with fines.
Under the current law enacted for the prevention of infectious diseases business owners could be fined of up to 27-hundred U.S. dollars and be sued for more liability for ensuing costs if confirmed cases pop up in their business entity.
They also face the risk of shutting down their business following an administrative order.
For users of such multi-use facility a person currently faces a fine of around 90 dollars.
What do authorities hope to gain by restricting social gatherings?
Authorities expect the assembly restriction to help curb the number of daily infections in Korea they call it the "tweezer" style quarantine measure in that stringent measures are focused on a particular region or places that have spawn cluster infections this past year.
This they say is an alternative to a nationwide lockdown that could lead to economic and psychological consequences one of the main reasons for the government reluctant to raise the social distancing level to its highest level in the five-tier system to level three.
For the past four weeks, government data shows that more than 41-percent of cluster infections in Seoul stem from multi-use facilties.
More than 70-percent of all new infections announced on Monday came from the Seoul Metropolitan Area where more than a half of Korea's 52-million population resides.
Before you go Ji-yeon what's the latest with regard to shortages in I-C-U beds?
The acting Seoul mayor said out of 91 only four hospital beds for the critically ill are left.
He said the city is trying to get a hold of an additional 105 more by the end of this month.
Also it's to run a medical consultation service comprised of doctors of local hospitals in Seoul for confirmed patients that are staying at home due to a shortage of hospital beds for their medical needs.
Thank you Ji-yeon for that report.