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S. Korea eases indoor masking starting on Monday

Posted January. 30, 2023 07:49,   

Updated January. 30, 2023 07:49


As of Monday midnight, the South Korean government lessened the mandate to wear masks in most indoor facilities across the country with it still in force on public transit and in medical facilities. Given that it signals a return to normal, the decision seems to be welcomed by many citizens but still leaves some organizations including schools confused. It took two years and three months to ease the indoor-masking rule since it was first introduced in October 2020.

Starting from Monday, it is not required but recommended that citizens wear masks in most indoor spaces such as shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, bus terminals, and subway stations. Major large companies, including Samsung Electronics, also informed their employees about lifting the indoor mask rule. Meanwhile, it is still mandatory to wear a mask in indoor facilities, which may likely be vulnerable to infection, including medical facilities and nursing homes. However, some level of flexibility has also been applied to multiple occupancy rooms where patients are now allowed to be mask-free when there is no visitor.

The rule of wearing a mask may still be observed in some facilities, such as large-sized cram schools where there is a risk of COVID-19 infection. Likewise, the Seoul Metropolitan Government requires public servants to talk to visitors face to face.

The rest of the current quarantine measures, such as the seven-day quarantine mandate, can be lifted depending on the World Health Organization, which is scheduled on Monday (local time) to decide whether to lift the state of Public-Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). If it decides that COVID-19 is not a PHEIC anymore, the South Korean authorities may likely consider further easing quarantine measures.

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