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Korea to lift outdoor mask mandates starting from Saturday at earliest

Korea to lift outdoor mask mandates starting from Saturday at earliest

Posted September. 23, 2022 07:50,   

Updated September. 23, 2022 07:50


South Korea plans to lift the mask mandates in all outdoor spaces, including the baseball stadium, starting Saturday at the earliest. It has been one year and eleven months since the government made wearing masks mandatory for outdoor activities on Oct. 13, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the disease control authorities on Thursday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters will announce a measure to lift the remaining outdoor mask mandates on Friday. Still, the government has yet to set the starting date. The experts who participated in the debate on this move said they told the government there will be no issue even if it immediately strikes down the mandates starting from midnight of Sept. 24.”

The outdoor mask mandates were eased in most places on May 2. However, people were still required to wear masks when attending gatherings, concerts, and sports events with 50 or more people, because the government thought there is a high risk of the virus spreading through the droplets of people chanting or singing along.

As the number of daily confirmed cases recently dropped to around 40,000 after another wave of the pandemic in late August, the National Advisory Committee for the Infectious Disease Crisis Response conveyed to the government on Wednesday that all outdoor mask-wearing rules should be lifted. “Our requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces may be maintained until this winter at the earliest, as it was the last resort to keep the virus under control,” an official of the authorities said.

Gun-Hee Cho becom@donga.com