|A woman scans the QR code of a vaccine pass app on a mobile phone to enter a large retail store in Daegu, Monday. Yonhap|
By Lee Hyo-jin
Criticism is mounting over the COVID-19 vaccine pass mandate for large supermarkets, discount outlets and department stores, which came into effect from Monday, with critics calling on the government to justify the scientific grounds for implementing the new measure.
The vaccine pass system, which requires either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result to be presented to enter multiuse facilities, has been expanded to shopping malls, retail outlets, department stores and bookstores measuring 3,000 square meters or more in floor space.
These large stores have been freshly added to the list of multiuse facilities subject to the vaccine pass system, including eateries, cafes, libraries and indoor gyms.
But criticism is escalating over the system, among people who find it unscientific and excessive.
According to government data, 427 and 327 infections occurred at large retail stores and department stores, in 2021, respectively, whereas 7,491 cases were linked to churches. But religious facilities still remain excluded from the vaccine pass since it was introduced on Dec. 6.
Unvaccinated individuals protested the "unfair and unscientific" measures for limiting their civil liberties, with even some fully vaccinated people viewing the latest measure as excessive.
"I don't understand why the vaccine pass system is necessary here when the free sample corners are all closed and people are wearing their masks properly," said Park Jin-sook, a woman in her 50s who visited a department store in Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul, Monday.