Vaccine pass at large retailers lifted

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Vaccine pass at large retailers lifted

People scan smartphone QR codes to enter a retail store in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. Yonhap

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

By Lee Hyo-jin

The government has made a U-turn over the enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine passes at large retailers and malls in the wake of a court ruling ordering the suspension of the vaccine mandate at the facilities.

Global Tech News Daily

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced Monday that the vaccine pass on six types of multiuse facilities ― large retailers and department stores, study rooms, museums, libraries, cram schools and theaters ― will be lifted on Tuesday.

The authorities said these facilities have relatively lower risk of virus transmission as visitors can wear face masks properly there, adding that the vaccine mandate will remain in place at other higher-risk places such as eateries, cafes and indoor gyms.

Global Tech News Daily

“Our medical capacity has increased and infections are showing signs of slowdown compared to December of last year when the vaccine pass was expanded to multiuse facilities,” said Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol during a COVID-19 response meeting, Monday.

“So, we view that it is necessary to ease the vaccine pass requirement at low-risk facilities and alleviate public confusion due to differing quarantine policies by region,” he added.

The vaccine pass, which requires visitors to submit proof of vaccination or a recent negative PCR test result to access various multiuse facilities, has been met with a fierce backlash and multiple lawsuits.

The ministry’s decision to retract the vaccine pass on large supermarkets and retail stores came three days after the Seoul Administrative Court ordered suspension of the measure in Seoul on Jan. 14, partially accepting an injunction request filed by 1,023 people.

Vaccine pass at large retailers lifted

People scan QR codes on mobile phones upon entering a retail store in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. Yonhap

The government’s reversal of the measure has caused public confusion, as the suspension was limited only to the capital area initially, since the court only accepted the injunction against the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The same day, another administrative court dismissed a request for the suspension of the vaccine pass at large supermarkets, stoking more confusion over the weekend.

Medical experts viewed that the government should refrain from further policy flip-flops over the vaccine pass, which would undermine public trust on its quarantine policies, when an Omicron-led wave is just around the corner.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), the infection rate for the Omicron variant stood at 26.7 percent in the second week of January, more than double the 12.5 percent in the previous week.

The KDCA predicted the highly transmissible variant to take over as the dominant strain by the end of this week.

“Although patients infected with Omicron are showing less severe symptoms, a surge in new infections would lead to an increase in critical patients, putting a strain on the medical capacity. It is very important that the government imposes clear and consistent quarantine rules,” said Kim Woo-joo, a professor of infectious diseases at Korea University.

The country added 3,859 new infections for Sunday, raising the aggregated total to 696,032. The number of patients in critical condition stood at 579, with 23 new deaths.

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