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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: South Korea's Balancing Act

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Cities around the world are trying to balance safety in a continuing pandemic without shutting down businesses. In South Korea’s capital, that’s leading to some small adjustments.

Starting Monday, restaurants and bars in the Seoul metropolitan area could stay open until 10pm, at least for the next four weeks.

That’s one hour later than previously, and part of a slight loosening of some restrictions in and around the capital city.

The government said that’s part of a strategy responding to concerns from small businesses, while maintaining caution ahead of a key holiday later this month.

And there are special considerations for those who are vaccinated.

During the day time, up to six people can eat together in a restaurant if at least two in the group are fully vaccinated.

At night, four of the six need to be vaccinated.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said about a third of the population is now fully vaccinated.

Just as the Labor Day holiday had been a focus for concerns about spreading the virus in the United States, a national holiday later this month has worried health officials in South Korea.

Three days of public holidays for the harvest festival Chuseok begin in two weeks. Millions are expected to travel to visit extended families.

For one week, up to eight family members and relatives will be allowed to gather at a home — as long as at least half of them are fully vaccinated.

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