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Korea mulls temporary lifting of self-isolation for general elections


The government is considering limited lifting of self-isolation measures to enable individuals whose movements have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to vote in the general elections. 

According to the National Election Commission, concerned government agencies are considering a number of measures for those affected by the isolation and quarantine measures. 

Korea currently enforces a two-week isolation period -- at home or in government facilities -- on those arriving from overseas and those who have come into direct or indirect contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients. Those violating isolation face fines of up to 10 million won ($8,170) or one year of imprisonment. 

Measures under review include setting up separate polling stations for those in self-isolation, and lifting the self-isolation rules for a limited period.
While the government has not made a decision, the NEC is said to be making preparations to accommodate voters in self-isolation, should the government decide to allow them to visit polling stations. 

For those confirmed to have COVID-19, the NEC will be operating early voting at special polling stations for patients with mild symptoms, as well as for staff at government operated quarantine facilities, Friday and Saturday. 

The special polling stations will be set up at eight locations in Seoul, Daegu, and Gyeonggi and North Gyeongsang provinces. At present, there are about 900 patients and staff at the facilities. The polling stations will be open for between five and eight hours, depending on the number of individuals in each facility. The ballots and equipment used at the special polling stations will be disinfected before being transported, the NEC said. 

In comparison, early voting for the general public will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

By Choi He-suk (