Seoul shuts down bars and nightclubs after rise in new COVID-19 cases

South Korea, a country praised for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has ordered bars and nightclubs in the Itaewon area of Seoul to shut down again.

The country originally raised its threat alert level to the maximum at the end of February when the pandemic was first hitting Asian countries. Due to an effective containment strategy and aggressive contract tracing, South Korea began to reopen businesses and return to some normalcy by mid-April. New cases dropped to single digits per day the last few weeks and according to the most recent Johns Hopkins data,  South Korea has only 10,894 cases and 256 deaths from the coronavirus. 

On Saturday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has ordered 2,100 nightclubs, discos, hostess bars, and nightlife venues to close after 34 new people tested positive and many were tied a 29-year old who visited multiple nightclubs a week ago according to Axios. (An example post from a South Korean bar is shown below but it not a reported hot spot).


A post shared by Glam Lounge 글램 라운지 (@glamseoul) on

As reported by the Economic Times, “Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said the government will decide on whether it will reopen schools in stages starting from May 13 as planned after examining the impact of the nightclub cases for two to three days.”

From an AP report, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was quoted:

"The infection cluster, which recently occurred in entertainment facilities, has raised awareness that even during the stabilization phase, similar situations can arise again, anytime, anywhere in an enclosed, crowded space. “We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention. [South Korea has] the right quarantine and medical systems combined with experience to respond quickly to any unexpected infection clusters that might occur."

Bar & Restaurant will update this story as more information becomes available.