By KIM TONG-HYUNG
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea will slightly ease its coronavirus gathering restrictions starting next week but continue to maintain a 9 p.m. curfew on restaurants and entertainment venues as it braces for a possible surge in infections driven by the contagious omicron variant. Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol says the four-person limit on private social gatherings between fully vaccinated people will be raised to six for at least three weeks starting Monday. While officials have acknowledged frustration and fatigue with prolonged virus restrictions and the damage on small businesses, they say they couldn’t afford to loosen social distancing rules further when omicron continues to spread. About 12% of infections last week were of the omicron variant and officials say it could become dominant.