This means the 9 p.m. curfew for places with high-contagion risks including food outlets and the ban on gatherings of five people or more will remain in place until after the Seollal holiday on Feb. 14.

“The ban on gatherings includes family members who don’t live together. No exceptions will be made for Seollal,” Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kang Do-tae told a news briefing.

The vice minister asked for compliance with the measures to “overcome the crisis together,” adding he was “truly sorry to the small business owners and others affected by social distancing.”

While the wounds from the December peak are still fresh, health experts delivered somber warnings that another big wave of infections may be imminent.

“Another wave of infections is inevitable, and it could be here earlier than anticipated,” said professor of preventive medicine Dr. Jung Jae-hun from Gachon University.

“Based on the calculation, we may reach the height of the fourth wave between early March and April with as many as 2,000 new infections daily,” he said, adding that although it is “hard to estimate the timing,” the country should be ready for the scenario. “Depending on our response now we could either delay or hasten its arrival.”

According to