Police on standby to deter illegal rallies on national holiday amid virus outbreak
SEOUL, Police stepped up their guards Saturday to prevent conservative activists from holding abrupt and illegal rallies in central Seoul amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.
Several conservative groups are planning rallies to protest the liberal government’s policies on National Foundation Day despite the government’s strong warnings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police said they set up inspection points in 90 locations connecting to central Seoul and are checking entering vehicles.
Police buses were placed in lines on the main streets linking Gwanghwamun and City Hall in central Seoul. Subways were not stopping at nearby stations.
Police also set up fences in Gwanghwamun Square where outdoor rallies are often held.
Some conservative groups are known to have plans to push for a press conference or one-person rally in the public plaza.
Two separate groups plan to hold drive-thru rallies in southern Seoul as a local court approved such demonstrations involving less than 10 cars under strict anti-infection measures.
The government has issued warnings against illegal anti-government rallies planned by some conservative groups on concerns that the mass gatherings could hamper the country’s efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Thousands of people, led by conservative groups, held massive rallies on Aug. 15, the country’s Liberation Day, in central Seoul. The protests have been partly blamed for a resurgence in COVID-19 cases since mid-August, with cases tied to the rallies reaching more than 600.
The country’s daily infections spiked to triple-digit figures for more than a month from Aug. 14, until they slowed down on the back of tougher virus curbs.
In a preemptive measure, the Seoul city government banned all rallies of 10 or more people and designated parts of central Seoul as no-assembly zones. The capital also banned rallies in the form of car parades.
Under the Level 2 social distancing rules imposed at a nationwide level, outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people are prohibited and indoor meetings of 50 or more are also banned.
Source: Yonhap News Agency