The government will push back the anti-COVID-19 business curfew on cafes, restaurants and other multiuse facilities by an hour to 11 p.m. starting Saturday, Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol said.
Despite soaring infections, the government decided to extend the operating hours for 12 kinds of multiuse facilities in an effort to help small businesses suffering from prolonged anti-virus restrictions, Jeon said during a COVID-19 response meeting.
The new curfew will be effective until March 20, and the current six-person cap on private gatherings will remain in place, he said.
"The government took into consideration the prolonged and worsening hardship of business owners and small merchants despite a series of government compensations and partial easings of social distancing," Jeon said.
The revision is also in line with the government's recent shift to a virus response system focusing on high-risk COVID-19 patients as well as a decision to suspend the enforcement of the vaccine pass system, he said.
The minister said the hospital bed occupancy rate for seriously ill COVID-19 patients surpassed 50 percent this week, but key indicators such as the fatality rate or the rate of patients in critical condition remain manageable within the country's medical response capacity. (Yonhap)