South Korea Marks 17th Day of Triple-digit Coronavirus Cases with Dining Curbs​

A general view of an empty restaurant during a lunch hour amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea reported its 17th day of triple-digit rises in coronavirus infections on Sunday, as restrictions on onsite dining at restaurants, pubs and bakeries in the densely populated Seoul area take effect.

There were 299 new infections as of Saturday midnight, the slowest daily rise in five days, bringing the national tally to 19,699 cases of the new coronavirus and 323 COVID-19 deaths, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

On Friday, the country extended Phase 2 social distancing rules - the second strictest level - for at least another week and announced tougher rules on places with high risks of virus spread.

Onsite dining at restaurants, pubs and bakeries in the Seoul area is banned between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., while coffee shops, some of which have been identified as hotspots, are restricted to takeout and delivery until midnight on Sept. 6.

Churches, nightclubs, indoor sports facilities and most schools in the area are already closed, and masks are mandatory in public places.