Rear-side parks along the Han River in Seoul have always been popular hangout spots for Seoulites. But the parks have been particularly crowded in the last week that South Korea tightened social distancing in the greater Seoul area, restricting cafes and on-site dining in restaurants. Now, to thin the crowds in curved spread of the COVID-19, the city of Seoul placed a ban on some of the most popular rear-side parks along the Han River. Cafes and convenience stores at parks that remain open will be shut after 9 PM. Arirang’s Choi Jeong-yoon is out in one of those parks.
When the social distancing level 2.5 was imposed throughout the capital region, people flocked to the parks along the Han River where they could still hang out.The number of visitors in the first week of September increased by almost 40 percent compared to the same period last year, rising especially on the weekend.That has prompted the city to close some of the most crowded areas of the three most popular parks those are at Yeouido, Ttukseom and Banpo.The restrictions apply to the picnic areas and plazas where people tend to gather.”The picnic area behind me is often packed with people sitting and eating food.But with the latest restrictions, warning tape has been put up to stop people from going on the grass.”The convenience stores, snack bars and cafes at river parks will have to close everyday at 9 PM.[Lee Weon-gun, Director of Banpo Information Center]
“Banpo Park will ask people to refrain from eating, drinking and exercising after 9 PM. Park officials will also be there reminding people to stay two meters apart from each other and to wear their masks.”
[Reporter]The river parks have become a concern because someone went to a convenience store at Ttukseom park last week without a mask on and was later confirmed to have the virus.Seoul residents say they support the measures, though there are inconveniences they have to endure.[Choi Dong-jin, Seoul resident]
“With the stricter social distancing, parks were kind of the only getaway we could enjoy. With these new restrictions, I don’t know where I can go to get some fresh air. But if it makes quarantine more effective, then I’ll stay home until the pandemic is finally under control.“
[Reporter]The city will also close the parking lots at 11 of the parks from 9 PM to 2 AM. The measures are expected to last until this Sunday but could be extended if case numbers don’t come down.