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Big firms gird for tougher social distancing amid virus surge

08:33 November 20, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- Big businesses in South Korea are taking preemptive steps to brace for tougher social distancing due to a recent surge in new coronavirus cases, sources said Friday.

Seoul on Thursday raised its five-tier social distancing scheme by one notch in the greater Seoul area and some other areas where COVID-19 infections have soared recently.

The Level 1.5 alert is largely aimed at limiting the number of people in closed areas and mass gatherings to rein in the spread of the flu-like virus.

According to the sources, Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest smartphone and memory chip manufacturer, resumed a partial work-from-home program this week.

Earlier this month, Samsung Electronics, the flagship of South Korea's top conglomerate Samsung Group, ended a pilot teleworking scheme at some business segments in line with softer social distancing measures.

Big firms gird for tougher social distancing amid virus surge - 1

Samsung Electronics has also limited the number of workers participating in meetings or education events, banned staff dinners and put restrictions on domestic and overseas business trips.

Samsung Electronics is not alone. Hyundai Motor Group, which has South Korea's top two automakers, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., under its wing, has been maintaining strict quarantine measures for months to fend off any infections at its offices and production lines.

SK Group, South Korea's third-largest conglomerate, has allowed more employees to work from home and restricted access to its headquarters in central Seoul.

Home appliances giant LG Electronics Inc. has enforced tougher in-house quarantine measures, including a program permitting more than 30 percent of its office employees to work from home.

The moves by big businesses come after several COVID-19 infections were reported at Samsung Electronics' mobile research lab in Suwon, just south of Seoul, LG's research and development campus in southern Seoul and the SK building this week.

South Korea has seen a resurgence in virus infections in recent days. On Thursday, Seoul reported nearly 350 new coronavirus cases, reaching the highest level since late August due to sporadic infections in community settings across the nation.


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