S Korea to allow fans at baseball, football stadiums

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea will start letting limited numbers of fans back into baseball and football stadiums, an official said yesterday, as authorities seek to restore normality after the coronavirus crisis.

The country endured one of the worst early outbreaks outside China but appears to have brought it broadly under control with an extensive “trace, test and treat” programme while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.

Social distancing rules were relaxed in early May and some professional sports – including baseball and football – started new seasons behind closed doors.

From tomorrow, fans will be allowed to fill about 10 per cent of seats at professional baseball games, said Yoon Tae-ho of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.

The same proportion will be allowed at football matches from August 1, he added.

“All tickets will be pre-sold online to record who is being admitted to the stadiums, and every spectator will be required to wear a mask” throughout the games, Yoon told reporters.

The South’s daily new infections tally has varied between around 25 to 60 in recent weeks, mostly in the Seoul metropolitan area where half of the population lives.

Of 41 new cases announced yesterday – taking the country’s total to 13,979 – 28 were domestic infections while 13 were people arriving from overseas.

Authorities warned that today’s confirmed cases will likely to be over 100, as some 90 Korean workers who returned from Iraq are currently showing symptoms.

The workers – some 300 of them – arrived in the South earlier yesterday.