Museum of Art, Seoul National University. Photo: collectmoments/Flickr.

Following Second Wave of Infections, South Korea’s Museums Close

Effective today, South Korea is reimplementing lockdown measures—including the closure of public spaces—in Seoul for the next two weeks, until June 14. Museums, parks, and art galleries in the capital cautiously reopened earlier this month, but yesterday marked the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections in seven weeks, with sixty-seven of the seventy-nine new cases from the greater Seoul area, reports The Guardian. The national tally is now 11,402 confirmed cases and 269 deaths.

Following the resurgence of infections, national health minister Park Neung-hoo reintroduced restrictions on cultural institutions in Seoul and surrounding areas, including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province. Three of the four National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) branches as well as the Seoul Museum of Art and Gallery Hyundai have closed, and galleries are expected to announce updated programming schedules and opening hours. Companies are being urged to adopt flexible working hours, and residents of the capital are recommended to abstain from bars, restaurants, and social gatherings.

“The number of people or locations we have to trace are increasing geometrically,” said Jeong Eung-kyeong, director of the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We will do our best to trace contacts and implement preventive measures, but there’s a limit to what we can do. There is a need to maximize social distancing in areas where the virus is circulating, to force people to avoid public facilities and other crowded spaces.”

Park said: “The next two weeks are crucial to prevent the spread of the infection in the metropolitan area. Infection routes are being diversified in workplaces, crammed schools, and karaoke rooms in the metropolitan area. . . . We will have to return to social distancing if we fail.”