The government has decided to lower social distancing rules to Level 2 for the greater metro area and Level 1.5 for the rest of the country starting Monday for a two week period.
The 9 p.m. business restriction remaining in the capital region will also be extended to 10 p.m., but the ban on personal gatherings of five or more people will continue.
Chairing a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Saturday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced the adjustments, saying the decision was based on guidelines, but also considered public fatigue with prolonged restrictions.
Local governments are free to raise the distancing level if they feel it is necessary for a specific region.
Chung said the restrictions on business hours will be relaxed to help small business owners who have been cooperative with quarantine guidelines.
Under the eased measures, entertainment facilities nationwide can now open until 10 p.m. if they abide by safety rules.
But the prime minister said the ban on personal gatherings will remain as the third wave is not yet over. But in a new exception, the ban will not apply to immediate family members who don't live together. He said that the government, deciding on the latest changes, thought hard about striking a balance between quarantine and everyday life, and added the key is making a shift from lockdowns and business closures to a more self-participatory regimen.
Chung again stressed that quarantine violations will be sternly dealt with.