On the first day of the introduction of the ‘Quarantine Pass’ in department stores and hypermarkets, there was even a surprise demonstration against it (Photo)

Conflicts arose at the site on the 10th, when the quarantine pass (inoculation certificate, voice confirmation system) was expanded to department stores and large marts.

Stores have taken measures to deploy additional staff, but queues at the entrance and exit have been long, creating confusion for elderly people who are not good at using electronic devices or customers who are not vaccinated, returning empty-handed. In particular, in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, a group against the quarantine pass entered a hypermarket and held a protest. Regarding the confusion in the field and the controversy over effectiveness and legality raised in some areas, the government said, “We will adjust the system to minimize inconvenience to the public.” However, the necessity of the system is emphasized again and again.

“I’m too busy explaining to my guests”… “I am not a lab rat” protest

From the 10th, 2003 large-scale stores nationwide, such as shopping malls, marts, and department stores with a size of more than 3,000 square meters, were included in the facilities for which the quarantine pass was additionally applied. If you want to use the store in the future, you must prove your vaccination with a QR code, etc. or submit a PCR negative confirmation (valid for 48 hours from the issuance date) if you are not vaccinated. Those who have recovered should receive a confirmation of release from quarantine, and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons should receive a confirmation of exception. Without this verification procedure, even an unvaccinated person cannot use large marts or department stores.

The quarantine pass is only applicable to customers visiting the store. Employees such as salespeople are not restricted from entering even if they have not completed vaccination. Considering the chaos in the field, the government will have a one-week guidance period from the 10th to the 16th, and from the 17th, fines for negligence and administrative sanctions will be imposed for violations.

In the morning of that day, customers flocked to the large mart in Manchon-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu, because the previous day was a holiday, but only one employee was guiding the quarantine pass. Employee A (40) said, “I’m too busy explaining to the customers because they don’t know the new measures.” He said, “Isn’t it natural for the public to get confused because (guidelines) change frequently?”

This morning, female customers in their 70s were not allowed to enter a large mart in Seongdong-gu, Seoul. It was because he had left his cell phone at home and a mart employee blocked it because he did not have a paper form of an inoculation certificate. This customer claimed that he had also received a booster shot (boost shot) on December 16 last year, but he could not prove it, so he could not convince the employee in the end. A mart employee said, “Go to the nearest district office and get an inoculation certificate or a sticker (certificate of completion of inoculation).” The customer eventually had to turn away.

At the E-Mart Bunpyeong branch in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, Hyeon-jun Son, a professor at Chungbuk National University College of Medicine, and members of the “Vaccine Human Rights Action”, who have been protesting against vaccination and quarantine pass, entered the store and held a protest.

At a hypermarket in Seowon-gu, Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, Hyeon-jun Son, a professor at Chungbuk National University College of Medicine, and other citizens are protesting.  2022.1.10At a hypermarket in Seowon-gu, Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, Hyeon-jun Son, a professor at Chungbuk National University College of Medicine, and other citizens are protesting.  2022.1.10

In their hands, ‘Vaccine Forced Human Rights Violation’ and ‘A quarantine excuse control society! Divide the nation and destroy human rights!’, ‘Don’t ask, just right? There was a sign reading ‘You’re a killer vaccine!’ They said, “The quarantine officials are wielding maximum power at will,” and “The people are not experimental mice. “If you are the right person, you should at least speak up for your neighbors and your family.”

In addition, fines for negligence and administrative sanctions for violating the validity period of the quarantine pass started from this day. Users who violate the quarantine pass enforcement guidelines must pay a fine of 100,000 won for each number of times. The facility operator must pay a fine of 1.5 million won for the first violation and 3 million won for the second violation.

Public opinion battle over the government’s “anti-epidemic pass, more effective than social distancing”

The government has selected the quarantine pass before and after the implementation of the phased daily recovery (with Corona) as the main quarantine policy to control the epidemic.

Controversy has arisen centered on small business owners, self-employed people, and parents, but recently, a parent group’s request for suspension of quarantine pass enforcement at private academies, reading rooms, and study cafes has been cited, resulting in a strong opposition. There are also lawsuits claiming that vaccination is not very effective and that the quarantine pass only infringes on basic rights. In response, the government repeatedly emphasized the necessity of an quarantine pass. Instead of social distancing, he praised it as an important preventive measure to contain the epidemic.

Son Young-rae, head of the social strategy division at the Central Accident Resolving Headquarters, said on the 10th, “If the quarantine pass had not been expanded, the current distancing measures would have been longer and more difficult.” The government emphasized that it is reasonable to first expand the quarantine pass, which infringes on basic rights and causes relatively little economic damage.

Director Sohn said, “The purpose of the quarantine pass is not to increase the vaccination rate, but to reduce the size of the epidemic and secure the medical system, while avoiding the distance as much as possible and implementing it late and short.”

In addition, in order to minimize the problem of violation of fundamental rights, Korea, rather than foreign countries, acknowledged the exceptions as much as possible and said that it is considering adding Guillain-Barré syndrome and cerebral vein sinus thrombosis patients.

In response to the criticism that not applying the quarantine pass to public transportation is unfair, Director Sohn said, “There is a problem of realism, and there is a problem of violating basic rights because there is a disruption in daily life.” He continued, “If the quarantine pass is stopped, but the Omicron epidemic spreads, strengthening the distance is inevitable. This is more damage and inconvenience to all the people than the quarantine pass.”

However, it is pointed out that the government’s careful consideration and explanation was insufficient in the flood of opinions that it should be a quarantine measure that the majority of people can understand, but “irrational”. In addition to the controversial issue of effectiveness, it is necessary to explain and, if necessary, improve the fundamental rights violations to the effect that the scope of exceptions is narrow and the scope of application is wide.

In relation to this, Deok-cheol Kwon, the first deputy head of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (Minister of Health and Welfare) said on the 10th, “We will use overseas cases as a teacher and adjust the system to minimize inconvenience.”

By Kang Seung-ji, staff reporter [email protected]

Source: HuffPost South Korea – Athena by www.huffingtonpost.kr.

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