Mask-free dancing prompts closure of base establishments in South Korea
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U.S. Forces Korea has closed a pair of facilities at Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base after local media reports of people dancing without masks at parties at both places.
A crowd danced without masks inside the Flightline Tap Room at Camp Humphreys south of Seoul on Friday, the Korea Times newspaper reported Tuesday, citing photographs and videos posted on social media.
The Newsis website reported Wednesday that a similar event happened on Osan.
The reports come as coronavirus cases surge on the peninsula. The government there has described the surge in dire terms and has urged citizens to refrain from nonessential gatherings.
South Korea on Tuesday reported 686 new cases of coronavirus, according to the Central Disease Control Headquarters.
Seoul, the capital city, and Busan, the country’s second largest city, are off-limits to U.S. military personnel. USKF over the weekend expanded the off-limits area and on Monday reported 17 new coronavirus cases since Nov. 20.
“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 command said in a statement Wednesday. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
USFK spokesman Col. Lee Peters, in a phone call to Stars and Stripes, confirmed the USFK statement came in response to press reports about the base parties.
Those activities don’t reflect USFK’s commitment to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, the statement said.
“USFK has closed both facilities involved in the recent incidents until further notice, and will continue to implement mitigation measures to ensure our installations remain consistent with our core tenets and [South Korean] government social distancing measures,” the statement said.
U.S. military personnel, civilians and family members in South Korea are expected to follow coronavirus mitigation measures on and off their installations at all times, the statement said.
USFK has ordered personnel to avoid bars and nightclubs, stay three feet away from each other and wear masks when that’s not possible.
In summer the command expressed regret for “disruptive behavior” after American troops caused a ruckus with a Fourth of July party that included fireworks on a popular beach in the southern city of Busan.
Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.