South Korea will take legal action against some Protestant Churches violating the government’s guidelines for preventing the massive spread of the new coronavirus, its Prime Minister said on Monday.
As part of the government’s drive for stricter social distancing, health authorities had advised Churches to follow quarantine measures.
The health authorities said the measures include keeping the distance between followers no less than two meters while attending services, and having their temperature checked.
However, some Churches, including Sarang Jeil Church in northern Seoul, pressed ahead with weekend religious services, without abiding by some of the guidelines.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that stern government measures, including banning gatherings, should be imposed on Churches that ignoring the virus guidelines.
“The Churches’ action seriously hurt the safety of not only individuals attending the service but also communities.
“Now is an emergency situation that amounts to a quasi-wartime situation. People should not regard the government’s administrative orders as a bluff,’’ Chung said at a pan-government meeting on coronavirus responses.
In a public message on social distancing, Chung “strongly” called for religious, indoor sports and entertainment facilities to suspend operations for 15 days on Saturday, calling the next two weeks a “critical’’ time.
He also warned that the government would issue an administrative order to ban gatherings if the facilities did not abide by the virus guidelines.
“For facilities that do not follow the orders, the government will take legal action, including closures and filing compensation suits,’’ he stressed.
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