The vaccination rate in Korea against the coronavirus has eclipsed 70%.
The government task force on COVID-19 vaccination under the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on Oct. 23 said that as of 2 p.m. that day, the number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 35,945,342, or 70% of the population of 51.34 million (as of December last year).
The country reached this milestone 240 days after it began administering vaccines on Feb. 26, the third-fastest rate among member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development after Iceland (199 days) and Portugal (236).
In January, the task force announced plans for vaccination against the coronavirus and said those fully vaccinated must comprise over 70% of the population for the nation to reach herd immunity. This was also in line with data presented by the government to change the quarantine system into a "gradual recovery of everyday life."
The number of people receiving at least one vaccine shot was 40,760,564, or 79.4% of the population.
KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-Kyeong said, "Seventy percent of the population were able to fully vaccinate thanks to people actively getting their shots under a sense of participation to protect the health and safety of themselves and their families as well as the community."
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on the same day said on Facebook, "The journey for full-scale recovery of everyday life begins in November," adding, "We plead with people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for themselves and their families so that we can make a safe society together."
With the vaccination rate reaching 70%, the government on Oct. 25 held a public hearing at Korea Press Center in Jung-gu District of Seoul for a "gradual recovery to everyday life" and released in the first draft of its plan to restore life to normal in phases.
The plan's core is to implement quarantine rules from Nov. 1 in three stages.
Entertainment facilities, cola-teques (discos where soda, not alcohol, is served) and dance floors from Nov. 1 can run until midnight. All time restrictions on restaurants, cafes and other multipurpose facilities will be lifted, as these establishments can be open 24 hours a day.
Once the first and second stages are implemented, up to ten people can gather for private meetings at all places except restaurants and cafes. The third stage will see all restrictions on a party's size lifted.
The size of a group at restaurants and cafes will be restricted to four members regardless of vaccination status.
Releasing these details at a public hearing on the same day, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters will discuss them in a final meeting before officially announcing them.