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S. Korea Restricts Restaurant Hours, Gatherings as Virus Spreads

  • Health minister said the country is at a critical juncture
  • More restrictions placed as virus cases top 300 for fifth day
Pedestrians wearing face masks in Seoul Nov. 16.

Pedestrians wearing face masks in Seoul Nov. 16.

Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea is imposing stricter social distancing measures, including limiting restaurant hours and social gatherings, as a surge in coronavirus cases threatens to undermine earlier efforts to contain the pandemic.

The country’s social distancing alert level was raised to 2 from 1.5 for the greater Seoul area, effective Nov. 24. That will lead to a ban in gatherings in high-risk facilities such as night clubs and karaoke bars, while restaurants are prohibited from serving customers after 9 p.m. and can only operate takeouts and deliveries.