Vaccine pass mandates have been expanded to more facilities starting Monday.
People will need to show proof of vaccination when entering department stores, supermarkets and bookstores that are larger than 3-thousand square meters.
Those who aren’t vaccinated must show a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the previous 48 hours.
However, those under the age of 18 are exempt from the mandate, and employees of department stores or large supermarkets can work regardless of vaccination status.
To give people time to prepare for the new policy, there will be a grace period until January 16th.
Also starting Monday, people who have an expired vaccine pass will be restricted from entering most facilities.
Those who received their final shot more than 6 months ago will not be able to enter most facilities without a negative PCR test.
People will be able to extend the expiration date for another 6 months after getting the booster shot.
As of Monday, more than 340-thousand people have expired passes.
Individuals who violate the pass mandates will be fined 100-thousand won, which is around 83 U.S. dollars.
The strengthened measures come as South Korea reported 3-thousand 7 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.
The number of severely-ill patients dropped below 8-hundred for the first time in over a month.
Authorities also bumped down the country’s virus risk level to “medium” for the first time in six months.
During his first meeting of the new year, President Moon Jae-in on Monday said the resurgence is beginning to get under control, but also stressed that there are still problems ahead.
“There are two problems that we are bound to face. First, is the uptick in cases during Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, and second is the full-swing spread of the Omicron variant. It is likely that these two situations will happen at the same time. Health authorities are doing their best, but it is a matter of time until Omicron becomes the most dominant strain.”
President Moon said the government should find ways to quickly tackle the variant.
This being said, in the coming days, authorities are set to lay out a response plan for Omicron, as well as announce updates on the current social distancing measures which are due to end this week.
Choi Min-jung, Arirang News.