South Korea police set up 'bus walls' to prevent protests amid COVID-19 concerns

South Korea police set up 'bus walls' to prevent protests amid COVID-19 concerns

Police buses are parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul
Police buses are parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square to prevent unexpected anti-government protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic in central Seoul, South Korea, Oct 3, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran)

SEOUL: South Korean police mobilised hundreds of buses to head off any political rallies in the capital, Seoul, on Saturday (Oct 3) with authorities determined to prevent another cluster of COVID-19 cases emerging from a protest.

South Korea has been held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story but it saw a flare-up of more than 1,800 infections linked to a church and a big anti-government rally in August.

READ: Graves, trains and traditional pancakes: How COVID-19 is changing Chuseok, one of South Korea’s biggest holidays

South Korean police stand guard near the Gwanghwamun square to prevent unexpected anti-government p
South Korean police stand guard near the Gwanghwamun square to prevent unexpected anti-government protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic in central Seoul, South Korea, Oct 3, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran)

The spread of the virus has slowed in recent weeks but the government has banned more than 100 demonstrations planned for Saturday's National Foundation Day, warning of strict punishment for any illegal protest.

South Korean police stand guard at Gwanghwamun square, to prevent unexpected anti-government protes
South Korean police stand guard near police buses, parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square, to prevent unexpected anti-government protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic in central Seoul, South Korea, Oct 3, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran)

South Korean police stand guard at Gwanghwamun square, to prevent unexpected anti-government protes
Police buses are parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square to prevent unexpected anti-government protests amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in central Seoul, South Korea, Oct 3, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran)

READ: COVID-19 triggers shifts in traditions as South Korea celebrates thanksgiving

READ: Nine in 10 recovered COVID-19 patients experience side effects, says South Korean study

Police parked buses along main avenues and around a central Seoul square to seal them off. They also set up around 90 checkpoints to prevent vehicles from bringing protesters while the subway did not stop at several stations at protest venues.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 75 new infections by midnight on Friday, a third day of double-digit increases, taking the national tally to 24,027 cases, with 420 deaths.

Pedestrians walk past police buses that are parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square in central Se
Pedestrians walk past police buses that are parked surrounding the Gwanghwamun square to prevent unexpected anti-government protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic in central Seoul, South Korea, Oct 3, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Heo Ran)

The government had eased some social-distancing rules after new cases edged lower but imposed special measures for the Korean harvest festival holiday of Chuseok, which began on Wednesday.

The rules include banning dining at motorway rest areas and nursing home visits and requiring temperature checks at all stations.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Reuters/ad

Bookmark