Post Covid-19 Life in Korea – What has changed?
Post Covid-19 life in Korea is drastically different than the Korea foreigners knew before. Aside from quarantining when entering the country, there are a number of new changes to life in Korea. Wearing mask, QR check-in, empty Hongdae, Iteawon…and so on. Below are some of the changes to daily life in Korea due to covid-19.
Once upon a time, it was possible for people to go out and club until the early hours of the morning. Although this change in lifestyle has been fluctuating the past few months, curfews are currently instilled in certain parts of the country to help keep the number of coronavirus cases low. In Seoul, businesses are required to close at 10PM. This includes restaurants, cafés, and bars. Although the rule is for the good of all, it is a bit disheartening to cut the night short.
2. QR Code and contact tracing
When entering a business, it is now required to scan a QR code from either a Naver or KakaoTalk account. If the individual has neither, there is usually a sign-in sheet that includes the individual’s name, area of residency, and phone number. This is for both the business and government records to help with covid contact tracing. If the individual visits a location with an active covid patient, it makes it easier for the government to get in contact with the individual so they can get tested. The small inconvenience after entering a business is actually a smart move by the government to trace the pathway of a covid patient before they have been tested, and hopefully prevent and catch other covid patients in the process.
3. Mask mandate
Some may view wearing a mask as an inconvenience and hassle, but in Korea it is mandatory outdoors and in indoor establishments. The mandate is pretty straightforward – wear a mask over the nose when in public. You can purchase masks at convenience stores and marts for cheap.
4. Person limit to social gatherings
In order to prevent large clusters of infections, there is currently a cap on how many people can attend a social gathering in certain areas of Korea. As of this writing, there is a four-person limit to social gatherings in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul. This rule can be quite annoying when it comes to planning social gatherings and outings, but it is a step in preventing large groups of people from getting infected and passing on coronavirus.
5. Social distancing measures in businesses
Social distancing measures such as separating tables and seats in restaurants and cinemas have been put in place to prevent the spread of covid in Korea. In the cinema, there must be one seat in between groups, and in restaurants and bars there is limited seating and entry. This is vastly different from the packed bars in Hongdae(홍대), but it makes sense as a facet of social distancing.
Coronavirus has changed a lot of things in Korea. Although these changes may seem burdensome and an inconvenience, they are in place for good reason. Hopefully, soon things may be lifted such as the four-person rule or the 10PM curfews. Until then, let’s follow the mandates to help end this pandemic sooner!
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