SEOUL, July 9 (Korea Bizwire) — The retail, hospitality and other service sectors in the wider capital area are expected to suffer another setback as the highest level of social distancing rules will be implemented amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, industry watchers said Friday.
Under the Level 4 guidelines to go into effect Monday for two weeks in Seoul, the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and the western port city of Incheon, entertainment establishments, including night clubs, will be ordered to shut down, while restaurants only will be allowed to have dine-in customers until 10 p.m.
The enhanced measure will affect about 960,000 business owners in the region, with nighttime establishments expecting the biggest financial damage as their business hours usually begin after 6 p.m.
The drastic measure is also expected to affect the hospitality industry.
Hotels in the greater Seoul area have recently ramped up their marketing by giving discounts and other promotions to vaccinated people to encourage more people to be inoculated as the nationwide rollout speeds up.
Under the new measure, only two-thirds of an accommodation can be operated, with hotels mandatorily canceling reservations ahead of the summer vacation season.
“About 1.2 percent of reservations at Signiel Seoul had been canceled as of yesterday,” said a Lotte Hotel official who asked not to be named, adding that more cancellations are expected later in the day.
Industry watchers also expect cancellations of various events at hotels due to strengthened measures. Weddings and funerals can only be joined by relatives.
The decision was made in light of a recent surge in new virus cases across the country, with a concerning number of outbreaks reported in the capital area, especially outbreaks at restaurants, bars and shopping malls among the younger population.
On Friday, South Korea reported 1,316 cases, the highest daily COVID-19 tally since the nation reported its first case in early 2020.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said Thursday that South Korea “is at a stage of entering the fourth wave” and the worst is yet to come.
In the worst-case scenario, the nation’s daily new infections could stand at 2,140 late this month, Jeong said.
She warned the average daily new infections could stand at 1,400 in late July unless the current situation is brought under control.