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S. Korea steelmaker Posco says its staff back in office as COVID rules ease

Posco Chief Executive Officer Choi Jeong-woo is seen attending the meeting of Posco’s committee for carbon neutrality on March 16. (Yonhap)
Posco Chief Executive Officer Choi Jeong-woo is seen attending the meeting of Posco’s committee for carbon neutrality on March 16. (Yonhap)
Most staff at South Korea's Posco have returned to their offices starting from Friday, a spokesperson of the steelmaker said on Tuesday, making it one of the first major firms in the country to implement back-to-office plans.

Posco's move comes as South Korea weighs scrapping social distancing curbs altogether and explores living with COVID-19 amid declining infections.

Previously, 50 percent of the company's office-based workforce had worked from home, while its plants in the southern port cities of Pohang and Gwangyang operated normally.

"We're planning to carry out a flexible policy considering employees' circumstances," said the spokesperson. Posco had a global workforce strength of 18,247 as of end-December.

However, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor and SK Innovation said when contacted by Reuters that they have yet to implement back-to-office plans, citing concerns about the highly infectious Omicron variant.

South Korea has been gradually relaxing its social distancing rules in recent weeks, abolishing controversial vaccine mandates and a compulsory quarantine for vaccinated travellers arriving from overseas.

Lee Sang-won, an official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said on Tuesday that authorities are consulting experts over cutting the seven-day mandatory quarantine to five days.

The government has hinted at removing all restrictions, except for wearing masks indoors, this month if the daily caseload continues to drop and medical capacity is stably controlled.

Currently restaurants and most other businesses must close by midnight and private gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.

The KDCA reported 266,135 cases for Monday, after the daily tally topped 620,000 in mid-March.

Total infections rose to 14,267,401, with 17,662 deaths. (Reuters)

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