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South Korean business owners shave heads to protest COVID-19 curfews

Over 200 South Korean small business owners shaved their heads in Seoul to protest the government's extension of curfews and restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases brought about by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Business owners, some in tears, had their heads shaved on a makeshift stage under a large banner reading "actual compensation for losses caused by COVID-19" just near the country's National Assembly.

"I haven't been able to pay monthly rent, so I'm facing an eviction suit and had to fire employees. I have no life. I'm standing on the edge of a cliff and must do something. I even thinking about dying, but there's nothing I can do after I die. So, I decided to do everything I can do, and came here to shave my head," said 51-year-old Yang Hee-kyoung, who runs a bar in the southern city of Busan. 

South Korea reinstated tougher distancing curbs in December as record-breaking numbers of daily cases and critically ill patients threatened to saturate its medical system before the Omicron wave hit. Earlier this month, the government extended the rules for three more weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. The curbs will last until February 6, including a 9 p.m. (1200 GMT) curfew for restaurants, cafes and bars, but the limit on private gatherings will be raised to six fully vaccinated people from four.

"(The government) is always talking about compensating, but they don't give us actual compensation. So we came here to receive real compensation for our losses and have the freedom to operate (for whatever) business hours," said protest organiser Oh Ho-suk.

(Source: Reuters) 

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