The defense ministry decided to keep restrictions on leave for soldiers in place for another week in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said Monday.
Last month, the ministry imposed the ban on vacation and restricted their off-installation movement, as the country saw a surge in COVID-19 infections. But it eased rules earlier this month to allow vacation for new recruits and those who have not traveled off base for a long time.
"We will maintain the Level 2 social distancing scheme at the barracks that restricts movement until Sunday," deputy spokesperson Col. Moon Hong-sik told a regular briefing. "Based upon the decision by leadership, however, the service members at the bases that have not reported confirmed COVID-19 cases for the past seven days will be allowed to leave the bases for a few hours."
The decision was made as the government extended the Level 2 social distancing scheme for another week to the coming Sunday, which bans all indoor gatherings of 50 or more people and outdoor meetings involving more than 100 people.
On Monday, South Korea added 70 more coronavirus cases, including 55 local infections, marking the second straight day that its daily new caseload dropped below 100, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country's total caseload stood at 23,045.
Among service members and military-related individuals, 111 have been infected so far, with 107 of them having fully recovered, according to the defense ministry. (Yonhap)