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National museums, libraries to remain closed despite drop in COVID-19 cases

(National Library of Korea-Yonhap)
(National Library of Korea-Yonhap)

South Korea's state-run art and history museums, libraries and national theaters will continue to remain closed despite a recent drop in new COVID-19 cases, the culture ministry said Monday.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced the government will partly soften its social distancing guidelines, conditionally allowing churches, bars, gyms and cram schools to resume business.

The decision came as South Korea's new daily confirmed coronavirus cases have remained under 20 for the past few days.

Despite that, however, state-run cultural facilities will continue to stay closed until the nation sees more clear signs of safety, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said.

The facilities subject to the extended closure include the National Museum of Korea and its 13 regional branches, the four outlets of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the three arms of the National Library of Korea.

The National Folk Museum of Korea, the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History and the National Hangeul Museum will also remain shut to the public.

In addition, the National Gugak Center, the National Theater of Korea and three other national performing arts theaters, as well as seven state art companies, including the Korean National Ballet and the Korea National Opera, will remain closed or continue to suspend shows.

"The time of business resumption by those national cultural facilities will be determined in accordance with the intensity of the government's social distancing guidelines, a (future) decision to convert to the normal quarantine routine, as well as the level of each facility's preparedness for business resumption," a ministry official said.

The culture ministry initially suspended operations of the state-run cultural facilities in late February and has since extended the closure continuously as the country fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)
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