Seoul city to ban rallies of 10 or more people in anti-virus move

August 20, 2020

The Seoul city government on Thursday announced a plan to ban street rallies of 10 or more people across the capital amid mounting concerns over a resurgence in new coronavirus cases here.

Under the move that will go into effect Friday, all demonstrations with 10 or more participants will be banned until midnight on Aug. 30, according to the Seoul metropolitan government.

The government currently bans rallies of 100 or more participants under the Level Two social distancing scheme that went into effect over the weekend. The tightened threshold is equivalent to a Level Three scheme.

Thousands of people attend an anti-government rally in central Seoul on Aug. 15, 2020. (Yonhap)
Police officers wearing face masks are on duty in central Seoul ahead of mass rallies on Aug. 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

Thousands of people attend an anti-government rally in central Seoul on Aug. 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

“We are at one of the most critical junctures and if chain transmissions spread in local communities … we may face an uncontrollable situation,” said the city’s acting mayor Seo Jeong-hyup, urging residents to follow the new guideline.

Those that violate the measure may face up to 3 million won (US$2,526) in fines. The city government also plans to file criminal complaints against organizations and individuals for breaking the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.

The latest move comes amid concerns over a recent rally that took place in central Seoul on Saturday. Thousands of people, mostly elderly participants, attended the anti-government rally led by conservative pastor Jun Kwang-hoon.

At least 637 members of Jun’s church who live in the greater Seoul area have tested positive for the new coronavirus in addition to 39 outside the densely populated region. Eighteen people who attended the rally have also tested positive, according to health authorities.

Health authorities and the city government have filed a criminal complaint against Jun for allegedly breaking a home isolation order and disturbing quarantine activities. The city has also ordered all residents who attended the rally to get tested.

On Thursday, South Korea reported 288 more COVID-19 cases, raising its total caseload to 16,346. It marked the seventh straight day of new virus cases spiking by triple digits.