SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — Courts in three cities on Friday ruled against the government’s plan to expand the COVID-19 vaccine pass system to include 12- to 18-year-olds, following recent similar decisions by courts in Seoul and Suwon.
The Daejeon District Court ruled in favor of 96 plaintiffs, including teenagers, who opposed the planned enforcement of the youth vaccine pass system in Daejeon, 150 kilometers south of Seoul.
The Incheon District Court in Incheon, 50 km west of Seoul, and the Busan District Court in the southern port city, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, made the same rulings in lawsuits filed by citizens and activists.
Similarly, courts in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital, have recently ordered that vaccine pass requirements be halted for minors aged 12-18 at all facilities.
Since November, South Koreans over 18 have been required to present a vaccine pass or a negative PCR test conducted within the previous 48 hours to enter various multiuse facilities.
The government has said the planned inclusion of 12- to 18-year-olds in the vaccine pass program is to take effect on April 1, one month later than the original plan.
The Daejeon court said the youth vaccine pass mandate cannot be seen as reasonable, because teenagers aged 12 to 18 have a remarkably low rate of COVID-19 case severity and mortality.
It said exclusion of 12- to 18-year-olds from vaccine pass mandate may not cause any significant adverse effect on public welfare.
The three local governments are mulling appealing the court orders, the KDCA said in a release.
“We will support the local governments’ active responses over the course of appeals. We will continue to review the matter in consideration of virus situations and court rulings,” it added.
Meanwhile, the same Daejeon court on Friday rejected a petition by about 1,500 citizens for the suspension of the government’s decision to extend COVID-19-related social distancing restrictions, including business curfew and gathering limit.
“The need for restrictions on private gathering size and operating hours of multiuse facilities is recognized to prevent the spread of the omicron variant,” the court said.