S. Korea reports lowest daily virus tally, relaxes physical distancing

South Korean virus cases jump, nation's total now 1,146
Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the COVID-19 at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL (AP) — South Korea has reported its lowest daily virus tally in about a month as it began easing its tough social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Monday that the 109 new cases took the country’s total to 22,285 with 363 deaths.

The daily increase has stayed in the 100s for 12 straight days, but Monday’s increase was the lowest since mid-August.

The government on Sunday relaxed its physical distancing guidelines in the Seoul area, citing a downward trend in new infections and economic worries.

The rules effective Monday allow customers to eat and drink inside franchise cafes and bakeries and indoor gyms and after-school academics can reopen. A ban on late-night dining at restaurants was also lifted. Distancing and masks are still required.