On August 11, Sarangjeil-Church’s(사랑제일교회) mass infection of COVID-19, a state of emergency has begun. Since this mass infection has occurred in religious gatherings, it has drawn comparisons to Shincheonji’s mass infection incident in Daegu that occurred in March. As of Sept. 3, 1139 people related to the Sarangjeil-Church have been infected.
After the mass infection occurred, the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and quarantine authorities visited the Sarangjeil-church to secure data, including a list of church members. However, personnel of church roundly refused the epidemiological investigator’s visits, demanding a search warrant, and this led to overnight confrontations between quarantine authorities and the church. In this situation, infections related to the believers of Sarangjeile-church are still increasing, and even the infected people of the church are not showing a conciliatory attitude.
The group’s subsequent protests at Gwang-hwamun on Aug. 15 worsened the situation. About 20,000 people went to the assembly and among them, infected people are increasing day-by-day. As of September 3, the cumulative number of infected people, who participated the Gwang-hwa door assembly, was found to be 441. People expressed their concerns saying, “I am worried that not only those who attended the assembly, but those who visited near the Gwang-hwamun area might be infected by the participants.”
As the situation is getting worse, the government raised the “social distancing” level to 2.5. Accordingly, restaurants, bars, franchise cafes in capital area should run their stores under some regulations. They can open their stores during the day and night-time, but they can only do the packing services and delivery services from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Also, people can only take out their foods and drinks from coffee franchises, regardless of the time. Gyms, pools and saunas are prohibited from opening.
Yoon Tae-ho, the Central Accident Control Headquarters said, "We are on the last line of defense to quell the spread of COVID-19 in the Seoul metropolitan area." He also urged the public to actively cooperate with the strengthened social distancing for the next 14 days.