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17 Nov 2020 | 10:36 AM UTC

Authorities tighten COVID-19 restrictions in Seoul November 19

Authorities to impose tighter social distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area from November 19; follow authority directives



South Korean officials announced on Tuesday, November 17, that tighter social distancing measures will be imposed across the greater Seoul metropolitan area due to rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections. The region will move from COVID alert level 1 to 1.5 starting Thursday, November 19. Under the new restrictions, public gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited and religious service congregations and audiences at sporting events will be limited to 30 percent capacity. Nightlife establishments such as clubs and karaoke bars will be required to broaden social distancing measures, as will other settings deemed as having a high risk of infection.

The wearing of face masks in public places was made mandatory from Tuesday, October 13. The mandatory restriction applies to all people over the age of 14, as well as those unable to wear masks due to medical conditions. If people do not adhere to the new measure, a fine of 100,000 won (87 USD) will be charged to them and may be imposed on those who wear the masks under their nose.

As of November 17, South Korean authorities have recorded 28,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 494 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider. 

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