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South Korea To Abolish Mask Mandate For Most Indoor Spaces This Month

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South Korea To Abolish Mask Mandate For Most Indoor Spaces This Month

(CTN NEWS) – SEOUL –  Prime Minister Han Duck-soo announced on Friday, January 20, that South Korea would remove the need for people to wear face coverings in most interior public venues later this month.

However, coverings will still be required on public transportation and in medical facilities.

According to Han, the country’s newest step to ease COVID-19 laws will go into effect on January 30, and it will be the easing of the rules for face-covering. This comes as fresh cases show symptoms of a slowdown.

During a COVID response meeting, the prime minister made the following statement:

“The daily number of new infections is continuing to fall, and despite concerns over a spike in cases in China, the situation here is under control without severe issues.”

A man walks past a sign asking visitors to wear masks at an indoor shopping mall in Seoul on Jan. 18, 2023. (Yonhap)

After China made a sudden policy about-face and abandoned a stringent anti-virus system consisting of widespread lockdowns, South Korea issued an order mandating COVID testing for all tourists entering from China.

Earlier, the government stated that it could eliminate the mandatory use of an indoor mask in stages if at least two of the four criteria are satisfied.

These requirements include a declining trend in new infections, decreased severely sick cases and deaths, robust medical response skills, and a high vaccination rate among high-risk groups.

The announcement was made on Friday, exactly three years after South Korea reported its first outbreak of COVID infection on January 20, 2020.

Street vendors (L) wait for customers at Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, January 9, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Additionally, the announcement comes right before South Korea celebrates the Lunar New Year holidays, when many South Koreans travel back to their hometowns.

Han warned that a temporary increase in new cases could occur due to the loosening of mask requirements combined with the approaching holidays.

He urged health officials to be watchful, particularly for individuals more susceptible to infection.

Most of South Korea’s pandemic-related safety measures have been eliminated, but the country continues to enforce a seven-day isolation rule for anyone who tests positive for COVID.

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