US Forces Korea (USFK) said Friday it will ease anti-virus restrictions for its personnel across the Korean Peninsula next week, allowing service members to dine at restaurants and conduct other off-base activities except for visiting bars and clubs.
The decision to lower the Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level by one notch to the second-lowest level of "Bravo" from the current "Charlie" comes as South Korea has seen a slowdown in the number of new coronavirus cases.
USFK lowered the HPCON level to Bravo for most parts of the country in May but has maintained the restrictions for the greater Seoul metropolitan area except for the capital's central district of Yongsan.
The measure will take effect 4 p.m. Monday.
Under the eased status, service members will be allowed to dine at restaurants, shop offline and conduct outdoor activities as long as they adhere to basic anti-virus guidelines, according to USFK.
"As USFK continues to monitor and assess the conditions within the peninsula, it will immediately snap back to a heightened HPCON posture without hesitation if a resurgence of the threat appears within our formations, installations or communities," USFK said in a Facebook post.
In late February, USFK first implemented HPCON C, the third-highest warning level in its five-scale system, which ranges from HPCON A to B, C, C+ and D, and briefly heightened the level by one notch for several installations.
USFK reported 139 coronavirus infections as of Thursday, most of which were confirmed upon personnel's arrival in South Korea.
USFK has not recorded an internal positive COVID-19 case since mid-April, it said.
South Korea reported 20 new cases of the virus Friday, raising the total caseload to 14,519. (Yonhap)