Foreign embassies in Seoul, including those of the US and the UK, have called on the South Korean government to grant “urgent recognition” of foreign nationals vaccinated overseas against Covid-19, as a dispute over the country’s jabs policy intensifies.

The embassies — which also included those of Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand as well as the EU mission — said that foreign nationals should have the “same access rights to public facilities as those Korean nationals fully vaccinated overseas”.

South Korea’s current Covid-19 restrictions require proof of vaccination to enter a number of public spaces. Vaccinations administered in the country are recognised, as are those given overseas to South Korean nationals.

But vaccinations given overseas to foreign nationals, including those with South Korean residency, are recognised only when the recipient has been granted a quarantine exemption to enter the country.

South Korea on Friday halted quarantine exemptions granted to double-vaccinated international arrivals to help prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The government also widened its mandate to require proof of vaccination at restaurants and cafés, while lowering the age of exemption from 18 to 11.

The US embassy said the “discriminatory policy . . . brings undue hardship to US citizens vaccinated outside Korea”, adding that it had raised it with the South Korean government “at the highest levels”.

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