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Samsung resumes in-person gatherings, business trips as COVID rules eased

In this file picture taken on Jan. 7, people walk past the Samsung logo displayed on a glass door at the company's Seocho building in Seoul. (AFP-Yonhap)
In this file picture taken on Jan. 7, people walk past the Samsung logo displayed on a glass door at the company's Seocho building in Seoul. (AFP-Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics said Monday it has eased a set of coronavirus rules for its office in South Korea as COVID-19 infections are on a steady decline.

Effective Monday, the tech titan, dedicated to smartphones, consumer electronic goods and semiconductor chips, will no longer be discouraging its staff from going on business trips at home and overseas, holding in-house gatherings and after-work dinners. The new rule will affect over 110,000 employees in Korea.

Under the eased rules, up to 299 people will be allowed to gather indoors, under the purpose of employee training and other in-house events, as long as the event maintains 50 percent occupancy or less at the venue. Attendees there must don masks inside the venue.

Also, up to 10 Samsung Electronics employees can get together to dine, known as “hoesik” in Korean, as long as a team supervisor is in charge. Dining with clients or business-related lunches or dinners were allowed before the new rule came into effect.

Restrictions on domestic and foreign business trips, such as ban on travel to countries with Omicron cases, will be scrapped with the new rule.

The eased rules will also partially resume operation of shuttles and helicopters.

“Beginning today, in-person meetings, trainings, events and business travels will partially resume,” a Samsung Electronics spokesperson said Monday.

Samsung Electronics is the first affiliate of the nation‘s largest Samsung conglomerate to ease its COVID rules.

However, Samsung‘s new rule will not force its staff to return to the office. Samsung said it would maintain its partial remote work policy, which had encouraged up to 50 percent of office-based workforce to stay at home.

Samsung Electronics is the latest to implement new rules in search of a partial return to normalcy among Korean corporations.

Beginning April 4, steelmaker Posco scrapped a stay-at-home work policy, urging all office-based employees to come to the office. Posco was one of the first major companies to do so.

Earlier in the month, automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors eased restrictions on business travels and in-person meetings. With the new rules, unvaccinated employees are allowed to go on domestic business trips.

This comes against the backdrop of declining infections in Korea and the easing of social distancing rules.

As of Monday, daily infections came to 90,928 in Korea, down from 127,190 cases a week prior. The number of infections on Monday is typically lower as less people get tested on weekends.

Since Friday, the number of daily infections has remained below the 200,000 mark, a sharp decline from a month earlier when the country saw 621,266 cases on March 16.

Currently, restaurants and shops must close before midnight, while private gatherings must not exceed 10 people.

Korea Herald daum