Go to contents

Korea may lift outdoor mask mandate on April 18

Posted April. 02, 2022 07:31,   

Updated April. 02, 2022 07:31


From April 18, Koreans may be freed from outdoor mask mandate. There is also a chance the government will lift most of social distancing regulations including restriction to the number of people at private gatherings, operating hour restrictions for restaurants and cafes. Except for indoor mask wearing, all the restrictions that have restricted people’s daily living for 757 days since March 22, 2020 could thus be lifted. The country could effectively enter the phase of Covid-19 endemic.

“If case numbers continue to decline over the next two weeks, and if the number of severe patients in critical condition and the healthcare system remain stable, the government will comprehensively adjust social distancing measures afterwards,” Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol told a press briefing on Friday. “The government will lift all quarantine restrictions except indoor mask mandate, and our society will return to a system close to normality.”

“We have reached the decision after serious deliberation by respecting opinions from all walks of life and the presidential transition committee,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said at a meeting of the National Disaster and Countermeasures Headquarter on the day.

The quarantine authority stopped short of disclosing specific conditions that will permit full lifting of restrictions other than indoor mask mandate on the day. However, insiders and outsiders of the government say that the lifting of restrictions will be possible if daily new cases fall below 200,000 from 200,000 to 400,000 during the past week, and the number of severe patients in critical conditions declines to below 1,300 and stays there. “The number of severe patients in critical condition could fall from mid- to -late April, but deaths may not decline as much as we hope. So, we will have to wait to see whether outdoor mask mandate will be lifted or not on April 19,” said Eom Joong-shik, an infectious diseases professor at Kachon University Gil Hospital.

noel@donga.com · ksy@donga.com