The outdoor mask mandate will be lifted from May 2
The South Korean government announced the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted from May 2.
The rule, however, will remain in effect for gatherings of 50 or more people, events, concerts and sporting events given the risk of infection.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced this on April 29 at a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters held at Government Complex-Seoul.
He said the government considered six consecutive weeks of decline in the number of infections and the people’s desire for a better life in deciding to continue taking a big step toward returning to daily life.
Though he acknowledged concerns over the easing of restrictions, he also said the public’s frustration and inconvenience over being unable to take off masks even when walking alone or at family outings could no longer be ignored.
Calling the quarantine and medical situations “certainly stable,” the prime minister added that France, New Zealand and Singapore scrapped their mask mandates right after or a month after the omicron variant peaked and continue to show a decline in infections without particular problems.
He said wearing a mask outdoors is “strongly recommended” for those with COVID-19 symptoms or high risk groups, and if keeping a distance from others of more than 1 m is difficult in crowds of people or many droplets are generated.
While it eased quarantine regulations, the government at the same time boosted its supervision of the elderly and high-risk groups.
Prime Minister Kim said the government from June will adopt Evusheld, a preventive antibiotic treatment for those receiving immunosuppression therapies due to blood cancer or organ transplants who have difficulty developing antibodies.
He said quarantine efforts based on the people’s autonomy and responsibility have grown more urgent to prevent gaps in quarantine due to the lifting of regulations, and urged the public to follow individual social distancing rules.