The South Korean government on Tuesday designated Aug. 17 as a temporary national holiday, allowing workers in the nation to have three consecutive days off during the summer season that's feared to be dampened by the drawn-out fight against the novel coronavirus.
The Cabinet approved the plan to add the post-weekend holiday on the August calendar during a weekly meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.
Moon said the designation is intended to give a "short but precious rest time" to people tired from battling the virus.
"I hope that it will serve as a small comfort to the people who are enduring inconveniences for the safety of everyone," the president said at the outset of the meeting.
The government considered the fact that this year's major holidays like June 6 Memorial Day and the Aug. 15 Liberation Day fell on Saturday, a non-workday.
Moon also took note of a decision by parcel delivery service firms here to mark "Delivery-free Day" on Aug. 14 so that delivery workers, who are suffering overwork amid the COVID-19 pandemic, can get some rest.
"It's a good thing that courier workers, busier with no opportunity to take a rest amid the coronavirus crisis, have become able to enjoy the right to rest even for a short time," Moon said.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun earlier publicly proposed making Aug. 17, a Monday, a temporary holiday in a bid to "give time for some relief to people and medical staff who've been exhausted (by the coronavirus situation) and also to help maintain the trend of recovery in domestic demand."
He pointed out that there are fewer national holidays in South Korea this year than previous years due to several falling on weekends.
Hyundai Research Institute, a Seoul-based think tank, said the upcoming extra day off is estimated to bring about 4.2 trillion won ($3.5 billion) worth of economic effects.
"The designation of a temporary holiday is an important measure to boost domestic consumption in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis from COVID-19," the institute said. (Yonhap)