THURSDAY’S NUMBER of new cases IS RAISING much ALARM over the LATEST SPREAD of the virus as it appears to be RAMPANT across the country.
Observers are calling for TOUGHER SOCIAL DISTANCING BUT CONCERNS over ITS IMPACT on the country’s ECONOMIC HEALTH have AUTHORITIES CAUTIOUS about HASTY ACTION.
I have our Kim Dami here in the studio.
Good afternoon, Sunhee.
Dami do start by telling us about the MEASURES under LEVEL THREE.
Sure Sunhee. Level 3 social distancing is the highest level on the ladder, and includes many more restrictions compared to levels 1 and 2.
First of all, gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited.
All facilities considered to be at high risk will not be allowed to operate.
That includes amusement parks, wedding halls, art venues, cinemas and museums.
Multi-use facilities like restaurants and shopping malls will have to shut down by 9PM.
All schools including kindergartens will be shut down and will switch to online classes.
As for businesses, work-from-home policies will be expanded, and all public sector entities will be advised to adopt remote working.
Now what are the chances of raising the distancing measures to LEVEL THREE?
The Korean government has strongly hinted at that possibility if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase.
Let’s take a listen.
(KOREAN – )
“This week is a pivotal moment that will determine whether we will need to adopt level 3 social distancing. This will cause severe disruptions in our daily activities and massive job losses, which we will have to endure.”
According to a local survey earlier this week, more than half of all Koreans believe that level three social distancing measures are necessary.
At the same time, around 40 percent of the respondents said such a decision has to be made cautiously.
Residents in the Seoul metropolitan area were more favorable of the move, compared to people in other regions.
President Moon Jae-in said Korea is now facing its biggest crisis since the pandemic began, calling on people to abide by strengthened social distancing rules.
He said that if the number of new cases doesn’t come down, the government will have no choice but to raise its social distancing measures to level three.
Adopting level three social distancing is not an easy choice. We will have to endure disruptions in our daily lives, job losses and severe repercussions for the economy. It could also lead to the collapse of the healthcare system. I ask everyone to work together to prevent the situation from taking a turn for the worse.
3 . , . . .
Enhanced distancing measures may help contain the outbreak but they will also come at a heavy cost to the economy right Dami?
Sunhee, the country’s economy will be more vulnerable than ever.
To get a better picture of the potential fallout, let’s look at the case of Germany.
Germany went into a month-long, nationwide lockdown back in March and April, at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak there.
Gatherings of two or more people were banned, aside from family outings.
Restaurants were not allowed to operate, and accepted take-out orders only.
If keeping one-and-a-half meter distances at workplaces was not possible, people were told to work from home.
All of these restrictions took a heavy toll on the country’s economy.
Retail sales fell five percent on-month in both March and April, contributing to a 10 percent drop in GDP for the second quarter of this year.
Experts say the Korean economy is likely to suffer a similar impact, or worse.
According to KB Securities, just two weeks of level three social distancing measures could drag down the countries’ economic growth this year by point-four percentage point.
That figure takes into account a scenario where level 3 distancing will only be adopted for the Seoul capital region.
Before you go Dami do REMIND us of the measures under level two of social distancing.
Social distancing level two prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 outdoors.
Sporting events are continuing to take place, but without any spectators.
Private firms are encouraged to adopt work-from-home policies or flexible working hours, to limit the number of employees at the office.
As is the case for level 3 measures, venues designated by the government as high-risk facilities will be forced to shut down.
They include night clubs, singing rooms, gyms, buffet restaurants and more.
Thank you for that coverage Dami.