(LEAD) Moon says South Korea will begin gradual return to normal life from November


(ATTN: ADD remarks, details, a photo of paragraph 4)
By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) – South Korea to take steps to gradually return to normal life after COVID-19 pandemic next month, as the country’s vaccination rate surpasses 70 %, President Moon Jae-in said Monday.

Despite the measures, however, some anti-virus restrictions, including a mask-wearing rule, will remain in place after November to continue to slow the spread of the virus, Moon said in a budget speech to the National Assembly.

Some 35.9 million of the country’s 51.3 million people had been fully vaccinated on Saturday, marking a precondition set by the government to return to normal.

“Based on stable containment and high vaccination rates, we are starting a gradual return to normal life,” Moon said. “It will start to be implemented in earnest in November. ”

Describing the return to normalcy as a “threshold of hope,” Moon pledged to support small traders and vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

South Korea has proposed a record 604.4 trillion won ($ 519 billion) budget for next year as it plans to maintain expansionary budget spending to cement economic recovery and narrow social gaps caused by the pandemic.

The proposed budget marked an 8.3 percent year-over-year increase from this year’s budget of 558 trillion won.

Moon said the 2022 budget proposal was aimed at helping the nation move past the era of crises and leap forward to become a leading nation.

One of the main priorities of next year’s budget proposal is to resuscitate people’s livelihoods by overcoming the crisis at an early date and achieving a rapid and solid economic recovery, Moon said.

Regarding North Korea, Moon pledged to promote “dialogue and diplomacy” to achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

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