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(LEAD) S. Korea to resume distribution of coupons for museums, theaters, sports facilities

18:47 October 18, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS quotes, more info in paras 4, 8-10)

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- The government will begin distribution of a series of discount coupons this week to spur consumption in the live performance, film and sports industries hit-hard by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday.

From Thursday, the government will gradually provide discount coupons, starting with 40 percent discounts for entrance to museums, 1,000 won (US$0.87) to 3,000 won discounts for art exhibitions and 8,000 won discount for performances, according to the authorities.

For movies, booking at a 6,000 won discount will be available starting Oct. 28, which can be used from Oct. 30, while for sports facilities, people who spend more than 80,000 won between Nov. 2-30 will get a 30,000 won refund from their card companies through a draw.

Accommodation, travel and restaurant businesses were not included in the 85 billion won discount scheme, as virus concerns linger.

The move comes as the government eased the social distancing guidelines to the lowest level last week after new daily COVID-19 cases showed a slight sign of decrease.

South Korea originally planned to distribute the coupons in August, but suspended the plan due to a resurgence in virus cases, mostly traced to a conservative church in northern Seoul.

Officials said the coupons will be distributed only to those who agree to follow due anti-virus measures, such as wearing face masks. Authorities will also begin inspecting the facilities Thursday to see whether they are strictly following infection prevention guidelines.

"It is time for us to find the balance between our daily lives and anti-virus efforts for self-employed people," Health Minister Park Neunghoo said during a press briefing, referring to the economic difficulties they had to suffer when the government heightened the social distancing rules to minimize citizens' outdoor activities.

As the coupons are centered on the cultural and leisure sector, the government expects them to boost businesses while also helping citizens relieve stress, Park said.

"We are providing the coupons while keeping the current situation stably under control," he said.

On Sunday, South Korea reported 91 new virus cases, raising the total caseload to 25,199.

This file photo, taken on Feb. 11, 2020, shows movie posters on an electronic board at a CGV theater in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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