SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — Child care centers across South Korea will close for 10 days as part of the government’s latest efforts to limit COVID-19 infections among the country’s younger population, the government said Wednesday.
“To prevent COVID-19 infections among infants, the government will close child care centers across the nation from Feb. 27 to March 8,” Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters.
“We hope that people will refrain from using child care centers if children can be taken care of at home to minimize infections among children,” Kim said.
Earlier in the week, the government encouraged parents to use family care leave, a new policy that began this year to allow people to take up to 10 days of unpaid leave to take care of their families.
By law, employers who refuse to grant the leave can be fined up to 5 million won (US$4,110).
The government will still run emergency child care for children whose guardians cannot take time off. The government estimated around 10 to 20 percent of children use such programs.
Around 75 percent of the country’s child care centers have already temporarily closed until March as the new coronavirus shows no sign of abating.
South Korea has reported 1,261 infections since reporting its first case on Jan. 20.
On Sunday, the government announced that all kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools will start their new school year a week later than planned on March 9 as part of the anti-virus measures.
It has also advised universities to postpone the new school term that starts in March by up to four weeks.