South Korea clamps down amid COVID-19 spike

South Korea is reversing course on its coronavirus rules.

Health officials on Thursday said a new spike in cases was forcing a rethink of Seoul's "living with COVID-19" policy.

Jeong Eun-Kyeong is the director of South Korea's Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

"We are facing a critical moment in the process of getting back to our normal lives... In order to overcome this crisis wisely, it is vital that we pause for the next two weeks to stop the chain of infections in our community."

Beginning Saturday, gatherings will be limited to four people and all must be vaccinated.

Restaurants, cafes and bars will have to close by 9 p.m.

Movies theaters and internet cafes an hour later.

The tighter restrictions leave few options for the unvaccinated

They will be forced to dine out alone or rely on takeout.

South Korea was only six weeks into its "living With COVID-19" policy, which had placed no curbs on opening hours and allowed gatherings of up to eight people regardless of their vaccination status.

But, during that time, cases surged five-fold.

With more than 7800 reported Tuesday - a new record.

The new curbs will remain in place until early January.

Jeong said the government would use this time to rev up its vaccination drive, including booster shots.

More than 92% of adults in the country have been vaccinated.

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