U.S. forces in Korea lift restrictions on COVID-19, allowing troops to travel freely on the peninsula

Since August, the U.S. military has banned or discouraged its population from visiting districts in South Korea that confirmed 50 or more cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people for seven days. (US Forces of Korea)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea: Americans affiliated with the U.S. military in South Korea were free to move around the country as of Friday, when U.S. forces in Korea lifted coronavirus travel restrictions .

USFK, the command responsible for some 28,500 U.S. soldiers on the peninsula, said in a press release that its troops and other personnel are no longer subject to travel restrictions aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease.

More flexible restrictions for U.S. personnel, including Department of Defense civilian employees, contractors, and family members, “are better aligned with the [South Korean] government initiatives “Living with COVID-19” “, according to USFK.

The U.S. military population has lived with some sort of travel restriction since the early days of the pandemic. At first, the individual facilities closed as the cases erupted. Widespread restrictions on travel and other activities became the norm and were imposed, relieved, and re-imposed as the pandemic subsided and flowed.

Since August, the U.S. military has banned or discouraged its population from visiting districts in South Korea that confirmed 50 or more cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people for seven days.

USFK will continue to update its COVID-19 access point map, but travel restrictions for these areas no longer apply. However, the U.S. military population is expected to meet local restrictions and unvaccinated personnel are still barred from access to saunas, baths, karaoke bars, and adult-only businesses.

According to USFK, individual commanders may be “more restrictive” in imposing additional social distancing measures at their discretion.

“We are nearing the end of the pandemic, that’s for sure,” USFK commanding surgeon Colonel Douglas Lougee of the Army told the Pacific Armed Forces Network on October 22 October 22nd.

The South Korean government announced Monday that it would loosen its social distancing measures due to the nearly two-year “public fatigue” of coronavirus mitigation.

More than 76% of South Koreans heard that a new policy of social distancing is being called for because of the country’s vigilant response to the pandemic, according to a recent survey by Seoul National University.

Despite some setbacks in vaccinating its population, South Korea has been praised for its response to COVID-19 and for having implemented mitigation measures earlier during the pandemic.

The plan announced Monday by the Ministry of Health and Welfare will relax the restrictions in several steps and assess its effectiveness over a two-week period. Each step would alleviate business time restrictions, curfews, and group meetings.

The ministry described its plan as “the roadmap for a gradual return to normalcy”, with the aim of becoming “the best Korea”.

“Today is a day we are taking the first step towards a gradual return to normal life,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said during a public briefing earlier this week. “We’ve been through so many crises big and small.”

The country reported 2,344 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, below a record high of 3,273 daily cases in September, but above the weekly average of 2,133 cases.

More than 76% of South Koreans were fully vaccinated on Friday, and at least 80% had received the first dose of a vaccine.

David Choi


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Source : Stars and Stripes.

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