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Seoul is under lockdown and even the music in the gym is restricted

Please do stop the music

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A coronavirus testing site in Seoul, South Korea.

A medical worker takes a nasal sample from a woman at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 8, 2021.

Ahn Young-joon, Associated Press

COVID-19 outbreaks have hit Seoul. To curb the spread of the virus, South Korean officials have implemented a creative yet unusual new measure — gyms can only play slow music, reported The Guardian. On the forbidden playlist are some top K-pop hits, including “Gangnam Style,” per NBC News.

  • Sunday, South Korea recorded 1,100 new COVID-19 cases, its highest daily number since the start of the pandemic, reported CNN. Most of these came from the greater Seoul area.
  • Monday, Seoul went into Level 4 restrictions, the highest tier of lockdown, reported the Deseret News.

Here’s a closer look at Seoul’s COVID-19 prevention measures that have sparked ridicule and protest from the public.

What are Seoul’s new COVID-19 restrictions in gyms?

Seoul has banned fast workout music from the gym. Any song above 120 beats per minute is not allowed, per NBC News. So at 108 beats per minute, “Eye of the Tiger” can stay on the playlist, but South Korea’s own hit “Gangnam Style” at 132 beats per minute is not allowed.

  • Gyms are also required to close their indoor showers, per USA Today.
  • Treadmills cannot go faster than 3.7 miles per hour or the equivalent of a 16-minute mile, CNN reported.
  • Table tennis is limited to two people per table, per The Guardian.

Why do gyms have to play slow music?

Health officials said they considered a wide range of opinions before deciding on the current restrictions, according to The Guardian.

  • “When you run faster, you spit out more respiratory droplets, so that’s why we are trying to restrict heavy cardio exercises,” said Son Young-rae, a health ministry spokesperson, per NBC News.

How have people responded to these restrictions?

The new restrictions have drawn confusion and controversy from gym owners and politicians alike.

“So you don’t get COVID-19 if you walk slower than 6km/h?” Kim Yong-tae, a member of the main opposition party criticized, via The Guardian.

  • “And who on earth checks the bpm of the songs when you work out? I don’t understand what COVID-19 has to do with my choice of music,” Kim said.

“Playing bright tracks is to cheer up our members and the overall mood,” said Kang Hyun-ku, a gym owner in northern Seoul, per CNN.

  • “But my biggest question is whether playing classical music or BTS songs has proven to have any impact on spreading the virus,” he said
  • “Many people use their own earphones and wearable devices these days, and how do you control their playlists?” Kang asked.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said via The Guardian, “I can’t help but feel very sorry to once again ask the citizens for a bit more patience.”