South Korea on Tuesday moved to shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus spread as a third wave of the pandemic proved much tougher to contain in the densely populated region of the capital city.
From December 24 to January 3, the government will close ski facilities and tourist attractions, popular during the year-end season, said Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, speaking during a televised briefing. Gatherings of more than 4 people will not be permitted, he said, while tighter anti-virus curbs will be imposed on restaurants to tamp down infections.
The announcement comes after Seoul and surrounding areas banned gatherings of more than 4 people over the Christmas and New Year holidays with the country recording its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus on Monday.
South Korea reported 869 new coronavirus cases as of Monday midnight, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Tuesday, down from the daily record of 1,097 reported over the weekend.
The rash of new cases has shaken a country that has for months been held up as a mitigation success story. The new cases bring the nation's tally to 51,460 infections, with 722 deaths.
"The message the government is urging the people is clear," Chung said.
"We sincerely ask you to cancel all travels and gatherings and stay home during Christmas and New Year holidays."
The national government has so far resisted calls to impose Phase 3 in the country's anti-COVID-19 plans, the toughest of all categorized social distancing rules that would essentially lock down Asia's fourth-largest economy.