South Korea is increasing social distancing curbs in its capital to the highest level after a steep rise in coronavirus infections amid a slow vaccine rollout.

The country reported 1,316 new coronavirus cases Friday, setting a record for the second day running. Friday’s figure is twice as high as the daily average across the first seven days of July.

South Korea was one of the first East Asian countries to chart a path out of the pandemic. In June, it announced plans to permit partially inoculated residents to go mask-free outdoors, while also allowing private gatherings of up to six people and for restaurants to stay open until midnight. It had also actively sought quarantine-free travel agreements with other countries.
Experts said the country lowered its guard against the coronavirus too soon, with the majority of the population still unvaccinated and outbreaks continuing in the densely populated Seoul area.