Museums and Art Galleries in Seoul Shut Down Again as the City Sees a Second Wave of Coronavirus Cases

South Korea had previously been praised for its exemplary response to the crisis.

Museum of Art, Seoul National University. Image courtesy of Richard Lee via Flickr.

Museums and galleries in Seoul, South Korea are closing their doors—once again—to preserve public health amid what appears to be a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

South Korea was praised for its exemplary response to the pandemic, which allowed it to begin responsibly reopening weeks before any other nation in the world. But just as the latest phase of restrictions was eased on May 6, the country suffered a setback. On Wednesday, South Korea reported the highest number of new COVID-19 infections it has seen in the past seven weeks.

In response, officials have re-implemented shutdown measures in the metropolitan area of Seoul, where 67 of the 79 new reported cases are located, according to the Guardian. Companies have also been urged to adhere to flexible working schedules.

Museums and art galleries, along with parks, theaters, and other public spaces, will be closed starting Friday, May 29 for two weeks, according to health minister Park Neung-hoo. “We have decided to strengthen all quarantine measures in the metropolitan area for two weeks from tomorrow to June 14,” he told the AFP. Bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues—identified as a major vector for the spike—have also shuttered.

Following the announcement, the Seoul Museum of Art quickly updated its website, stating that it is “temporarily closed for the safety of citizens and the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 disease.” Other shuttered facilities in the culture-rich capital include the Seoul Museum of Art (Seosomun-dong); Nam-Seoul Museum of Art; Buk-Seoul Museum of Art; SeMA Bunker; SeMA Warehouse; Paik Nam June Memorial Museum; and SeMA Nanji Residency. Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art, is offering visitors a virtual reality tour while it remains closed.

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