USFK eases anti-virus restrictions peninsula-wide amid slowdown in new cases
SEOUL, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) eased anti-coronavirus restrictions for its personnel across the peninsula Monday, allowing service members and their families to dine at restaurants and conduct other off-base activities except for visiting bars and clubs.
The lowering of the Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level by one notch to the second-lowest level of “Bravo” from “Charlie” came as South Korea has seen a marked slowdown in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
USFK lowered the HPCON level to Bravo for most parts of the country in May but had maintained the restrictions for the greater Seoul metropolitan area except for the capital’s central district of Yongsan.
The measure took effect at 4 p.m.
Under the eased status, service members are allowed to dine at restaurants, shop offline and conduct outdoor activities as long as they adhere to basic anti-virus guidelines, according to USFK.
“We must keep in mind the risk of COVID-19 still exists, and USFK must remain good ambassadors by being respectful and wearing a mask when out in the local community. Everyone has a vital role in preventing the spread of the virus,” USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said.
The U.S. military said it will immediately snap back to a heightened HPCON posture if a resurgence of the virus threat appears.
In late February, USFK first implemented HPCON C, the third-highest warning level in its five-scale system, which ranges from HPCON A to B, C, C+ and D, and briefly heightened the level by one notch for several installations.
USFK reported 139 coronavirus infections as of Thursday, most of which were confirmed upon personnel’s arrival in South Korea. USFK has not recorded an internal positive COVID-19 case since mid-April, it said.
South Korea reported 28 new cases of the virus Monday, raising the total caseload to 14,626.
Source: Yonhap News Agency