S.Korea lifts indoor mask mandate
Seoul, Jan 30
Starting from Monday, South Koreans can now visit most places, including schools, kindergartens and gyms, without masks, as the government lifted the indoor mask mandate that had been enforced since October 2020.
Still, the mask mandate will remain in place at hospitals, pharmacies and on public transportation, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The scrapping of the last remaining pandemic restriction came as the daily caseload has continued to decline.
On Monday, the country reported 7,416 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest level in about seven months.
In May last year, South Korea lifted the outdoor mask mandate in a major step toward supporting people's return to normalcy.
Jung Ki-suck, chair of the government advisory committee for Covid-19, told a press briefing Monday that the full removal of the mask-wearing restrictions would be possible around May, given experts' forecast on the virus trend in the coming months.
On the first day of the lifting of the mandate, most people continued to wear masks, while showing mixed reactions.
Some voiced concerns over the chances of being infected without the protection, while others said they welcomed the move, though they are accustomed to wearing masks in public places.
Most commuters also kept their face masks on in indoor areas of public transportation and even outside transportation hubs as they viewed masking as something between a habit and a security.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, South Korea has reported a total of 30,157,017 Covid-19 cases and 33,420 deaths.