A person infected with Covid-19 will be freed from self-isolation obligation while at-home self-treatment policy will be discarded from as early as May 23. Covid-19 will thus be managed like seasonal flu for the first time in two years and four months since the first Covid-19 patient was reported in Korea on Jan. 20, 2020.
All social distancing measures, including the restrictions to business operation hours and to the number of participants at events and religious gatherings, other than mask mandate, will be lifted from May 18. Thus social distancing measures that have been implemented since March 22, 2020 will be dumped to allow people to return to normalcy for the first time in 25 months.
Announced on Friday, the government’s ‘post-Omicron response plan includes measures to manage Covid-19. “Covid-19 will not completely disappear, but now is the time (for Korea) to try cautiously to return to normality,” Health and Welfare minister Kwon Deok-cheol said.
An infected person’s self-isolation obligation will be removed from as early as May 23 after a four-week implementation period beginning on April 25. A Covid-19 patient will be allowed to continue normal daily living, and freely visit clinics and hospitals without at-home self-treatment obligation or self-isolation. As the self-isolation obligation is being lifted, payment for paid leave and living subsidies, which are currently paid to patients by the government, will also be discarded. Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment expenses, which are currently free of charge, will entail costs to be paid the patient.
The quarantine process for foreign arrivals will also be simplified. Currently, those who arrives from overseas should take the PCR test on the day of arrival, and a rapid antigen test on sixth or seventh day after arrival, but people will only be required to take the PCR test on Day 1 beginning in June.
Most social distancing measures will be lifted effective from May 18, 757 days after they were introduced. Private gatherings (up to 10 people per gathering at present) and operating hours at restaurants and cafés (currently 12 a.m.) will be removed. The restriction to the number of people gathered for events, assemblies and religious services will also be lifted. Eating food at cinemas and indoor baseball stadiums will be permitted from May 25.
The government has decided to wait for two weeks before determining whether to continue or suspend the indoor mask mandate. Preemptive test requirements, and restrictions to visits, outings and sleepouts by residents and attendants at nursing hospitals and nursing homes will continue to be implemented for the time being.
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