Updated on 05-Mar-2021
Jan 12th, 2021:
Significant Progress Made in Efforts to Secure More COVID-19 Vaccines
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Tuesday that the government has made significant progress recently in its efforts to purchase additional COVID-19 vaccines.
The prime minister unveiled the development while presiding over a government meeting on COVID-19 responses, adding the government will disclose details after the contract becomes finalized.
Chung explained that while the government has already signed deals for enough vaccines to inoculate all of South Korea’s population, there are still uncertainties such as the duration of the efficacy, possible side effects and storage issues that may lead to the disposal of vaccines.
The government has already signed deals for enough shots to inoculate 56 million people with all-out efforts underway to begin vaccination next month.
South Korea has strengthened social distancing measures amid a rise in new coronavirus cases, with the country’s prime minister warning that action was needed to avoid a crisis with the arrival of the winter flu season.
While there will be no new restrictions on most daily activities, facilities considered at a higher risk of spreading the virus, such as bars, clubs, concert halls, must implement stricter measures, including putting greater distances between tables and installing partitions.
In addition, political rallies, concerts and festivals must have no more than 100 people in attendance, and chanting, singing and eating are banned.
Churches – which have been identified as the source of several large clusters throughout the pandemic – and sports events must keep attendance to a maximum of 30% of capacity, while school classrooms should be no more than two-thirds full.
The government has introduced some restrictions to short-term residents by nullifying short-term stay visas and by requiring short/long term visa applicants to submit a medical certificate.
Re-entry applicants should visit an Immigration Office in Korea and submit documents such as passport, Alien Registration Card, Application and Consent forms, and pay a fee of 30,000KRW.
The decision for the re-entry permit will be made after considering the purpose of stay and departure as well as quarantine related matters, but if there is a need to leave the country, permission will be granted promptly unless there is a special reason not to do so.
The Korean government supported the development of the “Mask Supply System for Foreigners” in consultation with the MOHW, the National Health Insurance Service, and the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service. The Korean government provided relevant information to non-Koreans in Korea, enabling 1.7 million non-Koreans to easily purchase protective masks at affordable prices from pharmacies around the country, regardless of their health insurance status. With such measures in place, non-Koreans were able to more easily purchase masks, helping to reduce the chances of transmission.
The Initial Orientation Course for Immigrants designed for non-Koreans not yet familiar with Korea was suspended to minimize the movement of non-Koreans staying in the country and to facilitate compliance with self-isolation for those entering the country.
Classroom education for the Immigration and Integration Program was sus-pended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among non-Korean participants. Since April, the program has been temporarily resumed through the use of online classes.
To avoid situations where immigrants without legal status go into hiding or crowdedness in the temporary shelters that could pose a risk to infection control, the government relaxed its measures on illegal stays in response to the raised Infectious Disease Risk Alert level to “Level 4 (Highest)”
Foreign nationals being tested for COVID-19 at public medical facilities are exempted from mandatory reporting to the authorities under Article 92 (2) of the Enforcement Decree of the Immigration Act even if public officers learn of their illegal status.
Building upon insights learned from experience, the Korean government systematized a three-level social distancing scheme on June 28, differentiated according to the severity of the outbreak, with clear-cut public messaging and matching countermeasures.
As the virus infection trend and the population size of school-aged children vary for each region and/or school, the Ministry of Education decided to allow autonomy to local governments and schools when deciding the specifics of managing staggered school start times by grade/class, operating online and offline classes in parallel, splitting each class into morning and afternoon groups, and implementing flexible school hours.
The Korean government drew up supplementary budgets of KRW 66.8 trillion (USD 57.4 billion) in total, in four intervals from March to September.
Korea seeks to extend foreign workers' stay permits to cope with seasonal labor shortage
South Korea will push to extend stay permits for foreign migrant workers who cannot return home due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to relieve seasonal labor shortages in farming and other areas, a government agency said Wednesday.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said that it and relevant ministries will discuss allowing migrant workers whose work permit periods expired to extend their stay here once for up to three months and engage in seasonal agricultural labor and other activities outside of their status of stay.
The government had earlier permitted foreign workers, who faced difficulties returning home due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions and lack of flights even after the expiry of their stay permits, to extend their stay by a maximum of 50 days.
They have been guaranteed lawful stay here, if they still find it difficult to return home even after the expiry of their extended stay. But they have been banned from getting employed and have thus been tempted to look for illegal employment due to livelihood difficulties. Under the current law, in particular, the issuance of visas is restricted for migrant workers who stay in Korea for more than five years with a non-professional employment (E-9) status.
(updated 14 April 2020)
- All valid short-term visas (single and multiple, visa type: C-1, C-3) that were issued on or before 5 April 2020 will be temporarily suspended. This will not apply to long-term visas (visa type: A, D, E, F, G, H) and short-term employment visa (visa type: C-4).
- Visa-free entry and visa-waiver programs will be temporarily suspended for nationals of countries imposing entry bans on Koreans. This will not apply to holders of diplomatic, official (service) passports, inbound flight (ship) crew members, and ABTC (APEC Business Travel Card) card holders.
- All ROK's diplomayic missions will enhance the screening of new visa applications. Applicants will be required to submit documents such as medical certificate issued within 48 hours before visa application and an agreement to quarantine.
South Korea government announced a KRW11.7 trillion (US$9.62 billion) stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The package will channel money into the health system, child care and outdoor markets. According to news, loans will be made on relaxed terms to affected exporters and retraining will be provided for those who lost their jobs.
KRW 100 trillion stimulus package for small and medium-sized businesses was also announced.
The Daegu government announced a KRW660 billion (US$542.5 million) emergency assistance targeting low-income households, small business owners and self-employed people. Support will be given starting April 16.
Temporary provision of KRW454,900 (US$374) will be given to Person/s Under Investigation or Person/s Under Monitoring.
Migrants are not part of the stimulus package.