SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- A number of cafes and restaurants in commercial districts in Seoul have defiantly stayed lit up past midnight in collective action protesting the government's 9 p.m. anti-COVID-19 business curfew.
Small bistros lining the Baekhack traditional marketplace in central Seoul, and restaurants and food vendors on a food street near Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul were among the participants in the so-called lighting protest, launched a day earlier in resistance to the business curfew.
Under the current social distancing rules, cafes and restaurants are allowed to operate until 9 p.m., while private gatherings at those places are limited to four people.
Amid the resurgence of COVID-19 and the fast spread of the omicron variant, the government extended those measures for two more weeks through mid-January.
Protesting business owners did not accept customers after the 9 p.m. curfew but left their empty stores and neon signs ablaze with light well past midnight.
"This is an expression of our will and wish to stay open and do business," Cho Ji-hyun, who represents an emergency association of small business hit by COVID-19, told Yonhap News Agency.
She said the business curfew as well as the vaccine pass program in place are putting the burden of virus prevention on small business owners, calling for their withdrawal or sweeping revision.
The association has warned of "stronger collective action" if the current business restrictions are further extended.
The association plans to continue with the lighting protest through Jan. 14, when the government is expected to announce new social distancing measures.