“Stiff penalties” will be waiting for people who will violate social distancing rules, the South Korean government warned on Wednesday.
The country’s third and worst wave of virus began to slow down as the daily case count hovered below 600 this week, as opposed to the recent peak of over 1, 000 cases daily.
A senior official at the Ministry of Health and Welfare Yoon Tae-ho, in a press conference, said that social distancing was a “civic promise for keeping each other safe,” adding that “stern consequences based on the laws and principles” await people who are abiding with the rules.
Some 434 violators have been recorded in the country since early December, police data shows. Out of the number, 23 were sent to the prosecution while the 411 are still under probe.
Proprietors of nightlife establishments like escort bars make up nearly half of the violators. Seoul’s Gangdong-gu office in December has arrested four sex workers and their pimp in an operation done jointly with police.
Police data further showed that 77 were caught violating the prohibition on crowding of five people or more. The said antivirus measure was first implemented in the Seoul metropolitan area last December 23. On the same day, South Korea has banned dining in groups effective nationwide.
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea Representative Hwang Un-ha was not spared from the antivirus-measures, as the official is under probe on alleged violation of the ban. Of those who dined with the lawmaker at a Daejon restaurant last December 26, at least two have tested positive for COVID-19.
Defying government provisions can lead to filing of formal charges and a fine of up to 3 million won or $2, 740.
Referring to Statistics Korea’s analysis of smartphone GPS data, Yoon stated that movements monitored in Seoul increased a little by 3.6 percent over the weekend.
“As around 40 percent of patients being newly diagnosed have gotten the disease from their family or friends, practicing social distancing is still as paramount,” Yoon said.
On Wednesday, Korea logged 536 locally transmitted and 26 imported COVID-19 cases, based on the data provided by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The additional cases pushed the country’s total infections to 70, 212.
According to Yoon, South Korea was “past the peak of the third wave of COVID-19,” but that “the infection rate must drop further before restrictions can be eased.”
The government will announce whether it will keep or relax the present social distancing rules on its briefing scheduled Sunday.