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Daebak! Singapore and South Korea will launch a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) come Nov 15. 

Under the Singapore-South Korea VTL, fully-vaccinated travellers from both countries will be able to travel between Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport for leisure — or any other purpose — without having to serve quarantine or a stay-home notice. Instead, they will be subjected to a series of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. More details of the VTL will be announced in due course.

Of course, planning for travel these days comes with a lot more considerations, and we’re not just talking about which flights to take or what travel insurance to buy. What’s the situation like at your destination? Have they fully opened up? Is it even worth going if nothing’s opened?

And in this case, what are the Covid-19 restrictions in Korea? Is everything in Seoul fully open? Or is Myeongdong still deserted?

Here’s what you should know about Korea’s Covid-19 restrictions.  

02 korea covid

Daily cases have hit 2,000 in South Korea for the third day this week following a long weekend, with a total of 773 cases reported in Seoul on Oct 8.

At the time of writing, social distancing measures have been extended for another two weeks in Korea until Oct 17. Greater Seoul continues to be under the toughest restrictions at Level 4 (as it has been since Jul 12); and for the rest of the country, Level 3.

Korea’s social distancing measures range from Level 1 (contained and stable) to Level 4 (full-blown nationwide transmission/ban on going out), according to Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare.

These are some of the Covid-19 social distancing measures in Seoul currently:
- Before 6pm, social gatherings of up to six people allowed, if two of them are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, the cap is four people before 6pm.
- After 6pm, a group of up to six people is allowed after 6pm, if four are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, it’s capped at two people.
- Cafés and restaurants in the capital are open until 10pm only.

We’re no fortune tellers, but with more than a month to go before the VTL kicks off on Nov 15, it’s safe to say that restrictions may just very well change before that. Here’s a look at some key points of Korea’s four-tier social distancing system to give you an idea, from Level 4 (highest tier with toughest measures) to Level 1 (lowest tier with least restrictions).

Level 4
Private gatherings:
Up to 4 pax (before 6pm); up to 2 pax (after 6pm). If fully vaccinated, up to 6 pax at restaurants, cafes and homes.
Restaurants and cafes: Open for dine-ins until 10pm; only takeouts and deliveries permitted after 10pm.
Shops: F&B samples, samples requiring removal of masks, visitor rest areas and event gatherings prohibited. Entry log records required. Open until 10pm.
Entertainment facilities, dance/nightclubs, dance halls, holdem pub/game centres: Gatherings prohibited.
Public baths: Open until 10pm with reduced capacity.
Singing rooms: Open until 10pm.
Amusement parks: 50% of facility capacity. Open until 10pm.
Water parks: 30% of facility capacity. Open until 10pm. 

Level 3
Private gatherings: Up to 4 people, or up to 8 if fully-vaxxed.
Restaurants and cafes: Open for dine-ins until 10pm; only takeouts and deliveries permitted after 10pm.
Shops: F&B samples, samples requiring removal of masks, visitor rest areas and event gatherings prohibited. Entry log records required.
Entertainment facilities, dance/nightclubs, dance halls, holdem pub/game centres: Open until 10pm.
Public baths: Open until 10pm with reduced capacity.
Singing rooms: Open until 10pm.
Amusement parks: 50% of facility capacity.
Water parks: 30% of facility capacity.

Level 2
Private gatherings: Up to 8 pax.
Restaurants and cafes: Can open until midnight, after which, only takeouts and deliveries allowed.
Shops: No restrictions on opening hours. F&B samples, samples requiring removal of masks, visitor rest areas and event gatherings prohibited.
Entertainment facilities, dance/nightclubs, dance halls, holdem pub/game centres:
Public baths:
No restriction on opening hours.
Singing rooms: Open until midnight.
Amusement parks: 70% of facility capacity.
Water parks: 50% of facility capacity.

Level 1
Private gatherings: Not specified.
Restaurants and cafes: No restrictions on opening hours.
Shops: No restrictions on opening hours. F&B samples, samples requiring removal of masks, visitor rest areas and event gatherings prohibited.
Entertainment facilities, dance/nightclubs, dance halls, holdem pub/game centres: Open until midnight.
Public baths: No restrictions on opening hours.
Singing rooms: No restrictions on opening hours.
Amusement parks: No restrictions on crowd capacities or opening hours.
Water parks: No restrictions on crowd capacities or opening hours. 

Photos: Unsplash/ Yu Kato, Zequn Gui

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