Slow Treadmills, Slow Music: The 53-Page Covid Rulebook


SEOUL—South Korea’s Covid-19 infections are rising fast, so health officials have demanded an immediate slowdown. Not of the virus. Of treadmills and gym music.

As required by new government rules, Lee Seong-min has reprogrammed his Seoul fitness center’s 18 treadmills. They can go no faster than 3.7 miles an hour, a brisk walking pace for many.

The venue’s piped-in music, typically a collection of energized K-pop, can’t exceed 120 beats per minute. He switched the playlist to old-school ballads.

“Most people listen to their own music anyway,” said Mr. Lee, one of the gym’s trainers.

Up-tempo tunes and jogging might create excessive air droplets that could spread the virus, officials argue, worsening a coronavirus outbreak that is South Korea’s biggest ever. It has prompted an unusually detailed prescription for what is pandemic-friendly and what is not, collected in a 53-page rulebook and baffling to some.

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