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Seoul ups club checks ahead of Halloween

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will toughen its on-site inspections on nightlife businesses to verify their compliance with antivirus measures ahead of Halloween amid concerns over another potential outbreak of mass coronavirus infections.

Talks on temporary suspensions of operations on Halloween weekend are underway with owners of night entertainment venues including nightclubs, no-alcohol dancing halls called colatec and bars with dancing spaces, the city said.

“The city will make efforts to reach an agreement with them through consultation,” Park Yoo-mi, the city’s director of public health, said during a press briefing.

Health authorities have been urging partygoers to refrain from attending mass gatherings this weekend, citing an outbreak traced to an Itaewon club in May.

Special inspections will be carried out on 153 dancing facilities located in the city between from Wednesday to Tuesday.

The city will work together with 25 district government offices to dispatch two civil servants each to 108 establishments that are expected to draw large crowds of people this week in order to ensure the health and safety of visitors from Thursday to Saturday.

The city is paying particular to the key nightlife districts of Yongsan, Mapo, Gangnam, Seocho, Gwangjin, Gwanak and Gangbuk.

In the event of violations of state anti-coronavirus guidelines such as not wearing facial masks and failing to comply with social distancing, the city will issue a “no-assembly” order for two weeks for the facility in question. The order will become effective the following midnight.

Other rules include an indoor limit of one person for every 4 square meters and keeping a QR code-based customer registry.

Virus-control efforts will be strengthened for hotels and theme parks, including Lotte World, as they run special promotions and events for Halloween.

“Collaborating with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, we will conduct on-the-spot guidance for the places where people are expected to be tightly packed due to Halloween events,” Park said.

Some large nightclubs have already issued Halloween holiday closure notices to customers via social media.

“In order to actively join COVID-19 prevention efforts, we decided to suspend the business Oct. 28-Nov. 3 in accordance with the government’s guidelines,” a club in Seocho District said.

Sporadic cluster infections have persistently emerged in the Greater Seoul area in recent months.

According to the city government, Seoul reported 25 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, raising its caseload to 5,876. The accumulated figure accounts for 22 percent of the 26,146 infections that have been reported in the country.

By Park Han-na (