United States Forces Korea apologized Wednesday for a maskless party held on Camp Humphreys (pictured) and at another installation during a COVID-19 surge in South Korea. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
SEOUL, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- United States Forces Korea said Wednesday it "regrets" a pair of crowded dance parties that were held on its installations in recent weeks, at which guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.
A party that was held at a venue in USFK's Camp Humphreys last week drew criticism from local citizens and South Korean authorities after images and video were uploaded to social media and reported on by news outlets. Camp Humphreys is located in Pyeongtaek, roughly 40 miles south of Seoul.
A similar party was held earlier at nearby Osan Air Base.
"United States Forces Korea is aware of two recent on-installation events that displayed poor judgment and actions inconsistent with USFK's core tenets and COVID-19 health protection mitigation measures," the military said in a statement titled "USFK Regrets On-Installation Behavior."
The military said that it has closed both facilities involved in the incidents until further notice and "will continue to implement mitigation measures to ensure our installations remain consistent with our core tenets and ROK government social distancing measures."
The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.
South Korea has been battling a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic since mid-November and this week raised social distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area to the second-highest level on its five-tier scale.
USFK installations are not subject to the regulations as they are not South Korean territory. However, the USFK's own guidelines mandate social distancing of at least 3.3 feet and mask-wearing when distancing is not possible.
The Seoul government has requested that the U.S. military adhere to the local regulations, and USFK officials apologized to Pyeongtaek Mayor Jung Jang-seon earlier this week, according to news agency Yonhap.
On Wednesday, South Korea reported 686 new cases of COVID-19, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, its second-highest daily total since the first confirmed case in the country in late January.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Wednesday at a meeting of officials that the spread of the virus around Seoul is "very severe" and that the government "will focus all of our capabilities" on controlling it in the greater metropolitan area, which includes Pyeongtaek.
The total COVID-19 caseload in South Korea rose to 39,432 on Wednesday, according to the KDCA, while the USFK had recorded 408 cases among its population as of Monday.
"USFK remains committed to being good neighbors with the Republic of Korea and to reinforcing USFK's core tenet standards that continue to protect both the ROK and USFK communities," the military's statement said.