Korea Rail Corp. and Supreme Railways from Feb. 15 will sell tickets for aisle seats. From Dec. 8 last year, both companies had adopted the government’s recommendation of selling only half or fewer available seats and only those by the window after the social distancing level was raised to 2.5. The photo shows the cabin of a KTX bullet train. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Public Communications Office)

By Jung Joo-ri and Lee Jihae

Restaurants and cafes in the Seoul metropolitan area from Feb. 15 can open until 10 p.m., and gatherings of five or more immediate family members are also allowed even if they do not live in the same household.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Feb. 13 told a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters meeting at Government Complex-Seoul, “For two weeks starting from Feb. 15, the social distancing level in the Seoul metropolitan area will be eased from 2.5 to 2 while that in the rest of the country will be eased from 2 to 1.5.”

“We are easing the limits on the operations of small business owners and the self-employed since they’ve cooperated in quarantine measures over this time despite pain felt to their bones.”

Private gatherings of five or more people are still banned, but this does not apply to the same number of immediate family members even if they do not live in the same household.

Six facility types — restaurants, cafes, indoor athletic facilities, karaoke boxes, offices for door-to-door sales, indoor standing performance venues and party rooms — in the Seoul metropolitan area can now open until 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. In the rest of the country, door-to-door sales offices are permitted to run until 10 p.m. and restrictions on all other facilities have been lifted altogether.

Nationwide, restrictions on the business hours of movie theaters, internet cafes, amusement parks and private education institutes have been lifted and six types of entertainment facilities can run until 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

Sports stadiums in the Seoul metropolitan area can fill their seats to up to 10% of capacity and those elsewhere in the country 30%. Wedding and funeral halls in the Seoul metropolitan area can accommodate up to 99 people and those in the rest of the country 499.

For religious services, up to 20% of seating capacity is allowed for less risky activities such as regular service in the capital region and 30% in the rest of the country. But all other events related to religion, dining and lodging remain banned.

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