Seoul orders bars to close once again after virus cluster detected

10 May, 2020

More than 2,100 bars and clubs in Seoul were shut down this weekend after 18 new coronavirus cases were linked to a single reveller.

Nightlife venues reopened in South Korea’s capital last weekend following a lengthy lockdown as authorities sought to contain the coronavirus spread.

Last Saturday a 29-year old man visited three clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon district and he did not wear a face mask. The three clubs had 1,500 visitors in total that night.

The man has now tested positive for Covid-19, and so have 18 fellow visitors to those bars.

The South Korean government reacted swiftly, ordering all clubs, bars and other nightlife establishments to close for another month.

Anyone who visited the three venues – King Club, Trunk Club and Club Queen, according to local reports – are urged to go for screening tests and then stay indoors.

“Such facilities have to suspend business immediately and will face strict punishment if they breach,” said Mayor Park Won-soo. “Carelessness can lead to an explosion in infections – we clearly realized this through the group infections seen in the Itaewon club case.”

South Korea has been widely praised for its quick and effective response to a coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.

It was one of the earliest countries to face a significant caseload, but it managed to control the situation through a rapid lockdown and contact tracing.

It therefore became one of the first countries to ease its lockdown, turning it into a bastion of hope for the global on-trade.

However, the problems faced in Seoul this week highlight the scale of the challenge that bars and clubs around the world will face when they bid to reopen in this new age of contagion.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has confirmed 27 cases traced to the Itaewon clubber. Seventeen of them came into contact with him on the night out.

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