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Testing the waters: South Korea's water parks open under new COVID-19 measures

Testing the waters: South Korea's water parks open under new COVID-19 measures

A water park employee looks on in Yongin, South Korea, Jun 5, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon)

YONGIN: Only a handful of rubber floats tumbled down the giant slide at South Korea's largest water park on Friday (Jun 5), its first day back in business since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

More visitors are expected to follow as summer gets under way, but new social distancing rules will make cooling off at Caribbean Bay in Yongin, southeast of Seoul, more complicated.

Under government guidelines announced for South Korea's water parks on Wednesday, people will have to maintain distance from each other in the pools as well as locker rooms and other facilities.

READ: South Korea says kids with suspected COVID-19 syndrome had another disease

The operators of Caribbean Bay, Samsung C&T, are implementing additional restrictions: Visitors must first fill out an online form to list any potential symptoms, and then have their temperatures checked before being allowed in.

South Korea blunted an initial surge in infections in February and March, but has continued to see a small but steady number of new cases, especially from crowded spots like nightclubs and churches.

Pool water itself is not believed to be a major risk for spreading the coronavirus, but the park says it has sought to reduce the risks posed by people gathering in close proximity to each other.

Officials said they carry out disinfection operations every hour. Everyone is asked to wear protective face masks when not in the water and the park provides plastic bags to keep masks dry when not in use.

"I feel like it’s safe to enjoy, so I came," said Kim Seung-min, a business owner who said he dropped everything to come on the first day.

READ: South Korea sees 2020 economic growth grinding to virtual halt

Only one ride was operating at Caribbean Bay on Friday, but for 9-year-old Lee Ji-woo, this was more than enough after weeks of virus-related closures and self-isolation.

"It was so boring and stuffy studying and watching TV at home so it's really exciting to be outside," she said.

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Source: Reuters/zl

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