With the summer vacation season just around the corner, the whole island is on alert.
The Provincial Council has proposed that islanders be inoculated first to prevent Jeju from becoming a virus transmission hotspot during the summer vacation season. In accordance, Governor Won Heeryong has also sent in an official request to Seoul. Mike Laidman reports.
With the busy summer vacation season just around the corner, there are strong cases being made to have Jeju residents inoculated as soon as possible.
Arguing for vaccinations is the point that if the island obtains mass immunization, the uncontrolled spread of infection could be avoided among both islanders and tourists.
Currently, the number of visitors to the island is the same as in regular years, pre-pandemic.
However, this year, Jeju Island is expected to play host to even more summer visitors than usual due to the island being favoured as an alternative to overseas travel.
Following the provincial council's previous proposal that island locals be vaccinated first to prevent Jeju from becoming a virus hotspot, the governor has also thrown his vote behind the request.
Governor Won Heeryong has requested that vaccines for 490,000 people be given to Jeju first in order to develop mass immunization before the summer high season starts in earnest and the island is overrun with tourists.
Won Heeryong / Governor
I am making a plea for the allocation of 490,000 doses, enough for 70% of the local population and the amount required for mass immunization, before the summer high season starts.
<녹취: 원희룡 제주특별자치도지사>
"제주도민의 집단면역 수준인 도민 70%, 49만 명 분량을 본격적인 여름휴가가 시작되기 전에 우선 배정해 주실 것을 간곡하게 부탁드립니다. "
Should Jeju Island become a source of infection transmission, the governor went on to say, it could seriously hinder the efforts the national government is taking to curb COVID-19 spread.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is reportedly reviewing the idea of designating travel safe zones to help boost the stagnant tourism industry, lending weight to the island’s request for early access to vaccines.
In order to pass through the summer high season without issue, vaccinations for Jeju residents, as well as tight infection prevention control at beaches and tourist attractions is needed.
Song Jae-ho / Jeju rep., Nat'l Assembly
About 30 members of the National Assembly have organized the Tourism Industry Forum. The forum is looking closely at the island’s request to act as a support for the country's COVID-19 efforts.
<전화 인터뷰: 송재호 국회의원(국회관광산업포럼 공동대표)>
"국회에서도 30여 명의 국회의원들이 관광산업포럼을 구성해서 이 부분에 대해서 제도적으로 뒷받침할 수 있는 건 없는지 면밀하게 살펴보고 있습니다."
One of the presidential candidates in the ruling party, (김두관) Kim Doo-kwan, also made a request that Jeju residents be vaccinated first to the presidential office, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Now, all eyes, especially of those living in Jeju, are on the national authorities, awaiting their decision.
Mike Laidman, KCTV