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Seoul court pauses vaccine pass mandates for minors

Malls, grocery stores ‘essential’ to bar unvaccinated

The mandate requires people to scan QR codes containing personal information including vaccination status before entering public places. (Yonhap)
The mandate requires people to scan QR codes containing personal information including vaccination status before entering public places. (Yonhap)
Seoul court on Friday afternoon has suspended the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s forthcoming policy requiring kids as young as 12 to be fully vaccinated or tested to access public spaces until a further decision is made.

It also suspended the requirement for those entering large stores to have proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

The requirement for minors was to begin taking effect from next month, or March at the latest.

The court said “the incidence of hospital admission is too low among 12 to 18-year-olds to warrant subjecting them to the pass system. None in this age group has died of COVID-19 so far.”

The court on this day also blocked the vaccine pass mandate for adults at malls and grocery stores for the same period.

“While food outlets are riskier as face masks cannot be worn, large malls and grocery stores bear less risk -- and these places are essential to daily life,” the court said.

Last week, the court put a brake on the use of vaccine passes at educational facilities on the grounds that it may violate constitutional rights to education and other freedoms.

In other places including cafes, restaurants, indoor gyms, movie theaters, sport stadiums, concert arenas and libraries, the mandate still applies.

The court said it did not recognize “the need for halting the mandate in the rest of the facilities, given the level of risk as assessed by public health authorities.”

Son Young-rae, the spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told a public radio broadcaster, that the court was “not disregarding the point of the vaccine passes, but where they are being applied.”

He maintained that the passes are “necessary to contain the spread, and already showing to be effective since it was implemented in December. As the situation stabilizes, the ministry had planned on phasing them out starting with low-risk places.”

He said the ministry plans to come up with new responses reflecting the court’s decision early next week.



By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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