South Korea never imposed a full lockdown but has been under its tightest social distancing curbs.
These include limited operating hours for restaurants, cafes, saunas and indoor gyms – which have hit the self-employed and small businesses particularly hard – and a cap on gatherings of more than two people after 6pm local time in and around Seoul.
The new strategy comes as vaccination, initially bogged down by a supply shortage, has picked up pace. The country has given at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 78.1 per cent of its population, while 60.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
In September, the government announced plans to expedite a phased return to normalcy starting November when 70 per cent of its 52 million people are expected to have been fully inoculated.
South Korea has kept hospitalisation and deaths at a fairly low rate. It had 359 severe cases and a mortality rate 0.78 per cent as of Tuesday, official data showed.
The country reported 1,584 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. It has recorded a total of 335,742 infections and 2,605 deaths.
Source: Channel News Asia