South Korea widens vaccine pass requirement amid Omicron variant


South Korea announced on Friday that people visiting public spaces will have to show vaccine passes, amid a surge in COVID-19 infections and six confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

The government also re-imposed limits on private gatherings, which had been recently relaxed, as the country posted record numbers of new cases this week.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said in a COVID-19 response meeting that, “From next Monday, people visiting 14 designated public spaces, including hospitality and entertainment venues, will have to show their vaccine passes.

“The public will have a grace period of a week to get used to the new rules.”

While people have been required to show their vaccine pass at high-risk venues such as gyms, saunas and bars, it is the first time that the requirement has been extended to restaurants and cafes.

From February, anyone aged 12 years or older will have to show a vaccination pass.

According to Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol, the government decided to lower the exemption age, currently set at 17 years, to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated as the under-18 age group accounts for 20% of all infections.

“The limit on private gatherings was cut to six people in the greater Seoul area, and eight outside, from the current limit of 10 in Seoul and 12 outside,” Kwon said.

South Korea has so far confirmed a total of six Omicron cases after a fully vaccinated couple tested positive for the variant after arriving last week from Nigeria.

The patients are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms such as headache, low-grade fever, dizziness and sore throat, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

South Korea has fully vaccinated 91.6% of its adult population aged 18 and over, yet the booster dose uptake remains at 8.1%.

READ ALSO: South Korea Reports Daily Infections as Delta Variant Drives Surge



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