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The Peninsula

Public Support for Looser COVID Precautions

Published October 13, 2021
Author: Korea View

What Happened

  • Public support for strict social distancing in South Korea fell from 84% support in July to 65% in August.
  • A survey from September showed that 73.3% of South Koreans support the start of the “With Corona” policy in November.
  • The Korean government announced its plan to begin “With Corona” policy in the second week of November.

Implications: Public opinion plays a role in shaping public health policy. The Korean government’s decision to advance a “With Corona” policy in the second week of November coincides with a public endorsement for looser restrictions by that point in the year. This represents a change in both public policy and sentiment since July when the people largely supported more restrictive social distancing measures in response to the fourth wave of COVID. Notably, the decision to loosen social distancing guidelines in November came despite rising Delta cases. Given the government’s cautiousness in earlier waves of the pandemic, public opinion may have helped influence this new direction. High vaccination rates may have also helped overcome lingering concerns among public health authorities.

Context: The Korean Government is also mindful of the economic consequences of long-term restrictions on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The government had loosened public health measures in July in response to the challenges facing SMEs. Although the fourth wave of COVID led to the imposition of stricter social distancing measures, SMEs have been calling for the Korean government to re-adopt looser policies to bolster the consumer economy. Ministry of Health and Welfare also explicitly called quarantine policies to reflect public opinions.

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 Janet Hong and Yubin Huh. Picture from the  flickr account of Republic of Korea

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