Level 1.5 restrictions (the second on a scale of five) entered into force at midnight on Wednesday in Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi Province, the two areas with the highest number of cases, and which will remain in force until at least two weeks.
In the nearby town of Incheon, where the volume of cases is slightly lower, the restrictions will apply from next Monday.
South Korea has registered 343 new cases in the last 24 hours, a record after August 29, of which 293 are local infections, and 177 correspond to the capital region where about 26 million people live, more than half of the country’s population.
Level 1.5 of the restrictions does not affect the daily life of South Koreans too much, but mainly targets the activity of bars, cafes, restaurants and karaoke bars, which must avoid congestion and guarantee the safety distance between customers.
In stadiums or places of worship the number of people should not exceed 30%, and in concert halls should not be more than 100 people, who are forbidden to shout, sing or eat during performances or sporting events. .
Also, no more than two-thirds of students can attend classes in school classrooms, and the remaining one-third will take online classes.
Protecting schools is a central goal that the government has set ahead of the imminent Suneung (Baccalaureate) exam on December 3, which is attended by nearly half a million students and is considered a national priority.
Japan is on high alert after a record number of daily coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday, but no new restrictions are in place at the moment.
More than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 were registered in the country on Wednesday, of which almost 500 in Tokyo, two new records, according to official data.
Although relatively smaller compared to other countries, these figures show a strong resurgence of the pandemic in the Japanese archipelago, where testing is not widely practiced.
“I believe that we are currently on high alert,” the prime minister told reporters on Thursday morning.
“I urge the Japanese people to take systematic measures, such as wearing a mask,” Suga said, noting that it would be desirable for people to do so even during restaurant conversations.
According to the public television station NHK, the Japanese leader convened meetings with experts on Thursday and Friday to discuss the growing number of infections before the government could consider further action.
The prime minister said he would support departments calling on shops to close faster and that restrictions such as limiting meals to four people in restaurants should be considered.
The Japanese capital is expected to raise its alert level to the maximum, but this does not automatically imply restrictions, and local media consider it unlikely that stores will be urged to restrict their hours.
The various measures taken in Japan since the beginning of the pandemic have never been binding, calling for public responsibility and social pressure, including during the spring emergency.
Japan has increased the number of tests it performs, but it remains relatively low: only 5,000-6,000 people are tested daily in the capital with about 14 million inhabitants.
Since January, Japan has recorded a total of 121,000 cases of coronavirus and just over 1,900 deaths.