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The Peninsula

Growing Pushback Against Public Health Measures

Published January 25, 2021
Author: Korea View

What Happened

  • As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow, the government extended its current business restrictions until January 17.
  • However, the government’s decision to allow some businesses to reopen for their daily care role sparked an outcry among excluded businesses.
  • Some restricted shop owners have called for protests against what they see as the government’s unfair and ambiguous standards for their businesses to remain closed.

Implications: As the government extends restrictions on business activities, policymakers face increasing difficulties maintaining support for public health measures. In response to the prolonged crisis, the government decided to allow some businesses to return to operations. Although these measures were intended to soften the cost incurred by the private sector, it received pushback from some businesses that were excluded from these exemptions. Businesses operating in social spaces, such as gyms, cafés, and bars, declared their intent to engage in legal action against any operation bans after January 18. The government has not yet come up with a solution to ease the economic challenges facing these business owners while maintaining public health precautions.

Context: Recognizing the economic impact of the pandemic on businesses, the government is taking action to protect essential industries. In particular, corporations providing necessary services and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) generating the most employment were the main beneficiaries of government support. However, the government’s effort to provide more universal support have faced opposition. For instance, proposals to reduce rental costs for SMEs were rejected by property owners who saw the measure as taking away their income.. In this environment, many businesses are facing an intensifying economic crisis on their own and are increasingly rebelling against the government’s policies.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sophie Joo and Chris Lee. Picture from flickr account of area 52 delta 8

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