Just four days after announcing relaxed social distancing measures, the South Korean government, once again, ordered bars and nightclubs closed. The move comes amidst a resurgence of COVID-19 in South Korea—a nation formerly applauded as a success story in pandemic mitigation.
Last Wednesday, the same day, that officials announced relaxed measures, a 29-year-old man tested positive for the virus. Medical investigators soon discovered a new cluster of 50+ cases centered around the individual. Authorities reported that during one night out, he visited three bars; the virus consequently spread to seven bars, putting 7000 people at risk according to contact tracers.
“Just because of a few people’s carelessness, all our efforts so far can go to waste,” Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon said at a press conference Saturday.
Soon stated that nightlife will be closed indefinitely.
South Korea was heralded as a model for pandemic containment. Their rigorous testing and contact tracing program allowed the country to avoid a full lockdown. However, cases surged over the last week—just as Koreans are told to embrace non-essential activities in their new normal.