Outdoor Mask Mandate to Be Lifted Next Week

  • By Sun Jung-min

    April 29, 2022 09:32

    The outdoor mask mandate will be fully lifted from next Monday except in certain crowded places. The mandate was already eased early this month, but penalties for not wearing them in densely populated places remain.

    Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday people will no longer need to wear a mask from next week except that they visit very crowed places or attend gatherings of 50 or more people.

    "Although there were concerns, we decided not to overlook people's discomfort and frustration since they were not allowed to take off their masks even when they go for a walk alone," Kim said.

    That would mean people without masks who come within 2 m of another person outdoors will no longer face a W100,000 fine (US$1=W1,274).

    Commuters exit a subway station in Seoul on Friday. /News1

    In a meeting Kim chaired on Thursday, some officials said health authorities should not be seen at the forefront of easing regulations when it could trigger another wave of infections.

    But others argued that Koreans have grown used to wearing masks for their own good and the fallout will not be dramatic, while a sharp drop in infections has weakened the rationale for maintaining the mandate. Since most lockdown rules were eased earlier this month, infections have not surged dramatically.

    Women shop for makeup in a mall in Seoul on Thursday. /Newsis

    The transition team of president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said earlier that it would be better to keep the mask mandate in place at least until late May, but a government official said, "We also considered other advice and suggestions."

    On Friday morning the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 50,568.

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