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Seoul's new mayor prepares revised COVID-19 guidelines for businesses

Seoul's new mayor prepares revised COVID-19 guidelines for businesses
Seoul's newly elected Mayor Oh Se-hoon (C), is returning to his old office after a decade. Oh resigned in 2011 after a referendum vote on school lunches. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

April 9 (UPI) -- Newly elected Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is expected to unveil sweeping changes in the South Korean capital, including adjustments to COVID-19 guidelines that he says could help small businesses.

A former city hall employee who charged ex-Mayor Park Won-soon with sexual harassment also was invited to return to her position, according to the Donga Ilbo.

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Oh is prioritizing the city of Seoul's COVID-19 response as cases surge in the country. On Friday, Korea reported 671 new cases, a relatively high daily number for the country. Oh said a better response is needed, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

"It has been a year and four months since we have been dealing with the coronavirus," Oh said Friday. "We must establish social distancing measures that takes a different approach from the central government."

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Oh won the mayoral election by a wide margin late Wednesday, and his victory was a coup for South Korea's opposition conservatives after their defeat in last year's National Assembly races.

Oh has strongly criticized the administration of President Moon Jae-in for policy missteps. The new mayor is expected to clash with the government, according to the Donga.

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The mayor said Friday that social distancing guidelines for small businesses and retailers should be revised after taking into account their respective industries. Oh has said current guidelines, including mandatory store closings at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. is a one-size-fits-all policy that does not consider the needs of business owners.

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Oh also has said that he would welcome back a former employee at Seoul City Hall who said she left her workplace because of sexual harassment.

The woman, who remains unidentified, was preparing to press charges against Park when he was suddenly found dead in a wooded area in northern Seoul. The death was ruled a suicide.

Kim Jae-ryun, the woman's attorney, said Thursday her client is "grateful" for Oh's offer. She is likely to return to city hall, according to local press reports.

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