South Korea said it will bring back measures to curb the coronavirus from Saturday as daily COVID-19 cases continue to increase sharply, only a month and a half after relaxing them.
Prime Minister Kim Boo Kyum said Thursday the restrictions, some of which are newly designed in response to the current situation, will reduce the maximum size of private gatherings to four people, as long as all are fully vaccinated. Those who are not completely inoculated are only allowed to dine out alone.
The curbs will also require restaurants and cafes to close by 9 p.m., Kim said.
The adjusted social distancing rules will last until Jan. 2 while the government will re-examine the situation at the end of this year, Kim said.
The government on Nov. 1 lifted social distancing rules and implemented its "living with COVID-19" policy. With the reintroduction of the rules, however, the policy will have only been in place for 47 days.
The country reported 7,622 new cases on Wednesday, with most centering on Seoul and the neighboring Gyeonggi Province, while the number of critically ill patients marked a record-high 989, according to health authorities.
As of Thursday, the rate of South Koreans who are fully vaccinated reached 81.5 percent and the percentage of those who received booster shots stands at 17.3.