South Korea on Monday toughened its coronavirus restrictions in the capital Seoul and its surrounding areas banned gatherings of five or more people to stem the spread of the virus, local media reported.

The decision came after the country recorded over 1,000 daily cases for several days.

The new administrative order for the restrictions on freedom of assembly will take effect at midnight Tuesday and end on Jan. 3, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The capital Seoul, neighboring Gyeonggi Province, and Incheon are already under level 2.5, from last month, the second-highest coronavirus restrictions where gatherings of 50 or more people are prohibited.

The new unprecedented assembly restriction measure has been introduced as year-end gatherings, events, and travel are expected to increase nationwide amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the agency reported.

On Monday, South Korea reported 24 new deaths, the highest daily number since the outbreak in the country, bringing the total number of fatalities to 698.

The country’s cases also top over 50,000 after recording 926 new cases during the past 24 hours, raising the caseload to 50,591, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

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