All casinos in South Korea’s Seoul metropolitan area, including Incheon, are required with effect from 12am on Thursday (November 19) to limit the number of guests to 20 percent of each facility’s maximum capacity, according to local media reports.
The requirement coincides with the South Korean government’s tightening of so-called social distancing protocols from what is known locally as “Level 1”, to “Level 1.5”, in order to stem an uptick of Covid-19 infections in the capital.
The rules for proximity of people vary under South Korea’s Covid-19 alert system, depending on the type of meeting place. Bars and nightclubs are considered among the highest-risk locations.
GGRAsia understands via a South Korean source, that under Level 1, a higher-than-20-percent capacity of guests had been permitted at casinos.
The official declaration on Level 1.5 was made on Tuesday morning by the country’s Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.
GGRAsia was able on Tuesday evening to contact Paradise City, an Incheon resort with foreigner-only casino operated by Paradise Co Ltd. A representative confirmed the complex was to observe “Level 1.5”, but at that time had not received any specific instructions from the firm’s corporate headquarters about how that would affect operations. Paradise Co is a partner with Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc, in the venue.
In September, Paradise City’s casino had been closed from September 1 due to several staff members testing positive for Covid-19. It reopened again on September 9.
The new capacity limit would affect a number of foreigner-only casino venues in greater Seoul, according to local media reports. Two of them are venues under the Seven Luck brand of Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd: Gangnam Coex Seoul; and Gangbuk Millennium Seoul Hilton. Two Paradise Co venues to be affected are: Paradise Casino Walkerhill Seoul; and Paradise City Casino Incheon.
Although South Korea’s borders are currently largely closed to foreigners, a number of South Koreans that also have either a foreign-country passport or residency overseas, is also said by analysts to be customers of such venues.
As of 10am on Tuesday, Seoul metropolitan area had recorded 155 new cases of Covid-19 within the preceding 24 hours, and the weekly average number of new cases from November 11 to 17 had been 111.3. According to government guidance, Level 1 social distancing would apply if the weekly average was under 100 cases in the metropolitan area, and Level 1.5, if over 100 cases.
The government had already flagged the possibility of bringing in the stricter rules, after the weekly average of new Seoul cases reached 80 last week.
Level 1.5 would also limit the number of spectators to 20 percent of capacity for bicycle race, horse race, and boat race events, which in South Korea allow bets to be placed by locals.
Level 1.5 also requires a maximum 30 percent capacity at sports venues and religious facilities; an upper limit of 50 percent for libraries and amusement parks; and circa 66 percent for students in school classrooms. Dancing would be banned in clubs as well.
Seoul metropolitan area had been at Level 2 from September 14 to October 11, and then Level 1 from October 12 until now.
As of 12am on Wednesday, South Korea had recorded 313 new cases in 24 hours, taking the confirmed tally to 29,311, including 496 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
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