SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) — Cafes and gyms began to fill with patrons again as South Korea’s government loosened social distancing guidelines in the greater Seoul area starting Monday to mitigate economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses.
At a branch of a coffeehouse chain in Noryangjin, southwest of Seoul, tables were occupied on Monday morning with patrons — most of them students attending hagwon, or cram schools, in the neighborhood.
Half of the tables and chairs were stacked away in a corner of the cafe in order to maintain social distancing. People sat while keeping a distance from each other.
“I moved to this neighborhood to go to a hagwon, but it is still closed and it’s been really hard to find a place to study,” said one patron, who asked not to be named. “Since it reopened today, I came here to study.”
On Sunday, the government relaxed social distancing regulations in the face of growing concerns over economic devastation from antivirus restrictions and a slowdown in new outbreaks.
Large coffeehouse chains, small- and mid-sized hagwon, “study cafes” and indoor sports facilities were allowed to resume normal operations. Restaurants can run without business hour restrictions.
At the entrance of a study cafe in Mokdong, western Seoul, a thermometer and an entry log were placed on a table. Only five seats were occupied