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Queues, entry bans plague large shopping facilities in S.Korea

Seoul, Jan 10 (IANS) Long lines, entry bans and angry protests plagued South Korean department stores, shopping malls and large supermarkets on Monday as the government's vaccine pass system was enforced at such retail establishments for the first time.

Visitors are now required to present proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test results to enter large retail establishments under a revised vaccine pass scheme aimed at reining in an increase of new transmissions and critical cases, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The addition of those stores to a host of facilities, including restaurants, cafes and gyms, has already sparked strong backlash, with opponents claiming the measure essentially equates to the infringement of unvaccinated people's right to basic needs.

"I received my third vaccine shot but don't have my certificate with me," a customer said as he was trying to enter an agro-fishery market in Daejeon, 160 km south of Seoul, where a long line had formed at the entrance due to the vaccine pass and temperature checks

Aother customer at a large supermarket in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, also complained as he was blocked from entry due to not having a vaccine pass.

At a supermarket outlet in Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul, a number of senior customers unfamiliar with the vaccine pass QR code also experienced hassle over entry.

At an E-Mart outlet in Cheongju, 140 km south of Seoul, a civic group against coronavirus vaccination held a protest while trying to enter.

With the new rule in place, many department stores have increased staff at entrances to check customers' vaccine status.

"Please have your vaccine passes ready," an employee at Lotte Department Store in Sogong-dong, central Seoul, told customers waiting in line to enter minutes before opening.

A staff member was seen catching a customer who tried to enter without presenting the vaccine pass QR code.