By Joo Kyung-don
SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- The government decided Friday to raise the private gathering size limit to eight people for the capital area and 10 for elsewhere before the country shifts to a "living with COVID-19" scheme next month, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said.
Under the renewed plan that will go into effect Monday, the greater Seoul area will remain under the toughest social distancing of Level 4, while the rest of the country will be under Level 3, Kim said during an interagency meeting on the government's coronavirus response.
However, Kim added that some virus curbs will be eased for fully vaccinated people as the country tries to bring people's virus-hit lives back to normal on a gradual basis with the inoculation rate increasing.
"We hope that this will be our last adjustment in social distancing so that we can start a gradual return to normalcy in phases in November," Kim said. "To relieve the pain of small business owners and merchants, we will make some changes to the virus curbs."
Starting next week, social gatherings of a maximum of eight people, up from the current cap of six, will be allowed in the capital area after 6 p.m. if four of them are fully vaccinated. Such a relaxed curb will be applied to all multiuse facilities in addition to cafes and restaurants, Kim added.
With the national college entrance exam approaching, the country will allow study cafes to operate until midnight. Sports events that have been played behind closed doors will now have an admissions cap of 30 percent.
The adjustments came as the country prepares for a "living with COVID-19" scheme, in which COVID-19 will be treated as an infectious respiratory disease like seasonal influenza with eased distancing, starting in early November.
The government earlier launched a committee involving experts from private sectors to discuss ways to smoothly carry out the envisioned transition in phases.