South Korea will lift the outdoor mask mandate on May 2, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday, though people will still need to wear a mask when they attend gatherings of 50 or more people or use multi-use facilities.
The decision comes after the country last week scrapped most Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, including gathering limits and business hour curfews, as part of its effort to return to pre-pandemic normalcy amid a downward trend in cases, reports Yonhap News Agency.
“Although there were concerns, we decided not to overlook the people’s discomfort and frustration since they were not allowed take off their masks even when taking a walk alone and while on a family trip,” Kim said during a Covid-19 response meeting in Seoul.
“Considering the virus situation which has been on a downward trend for six weeks since reaching its peak, and the people’s earnest wishes, we decided to continue to enhance anti-virus curbs.”
The mask mandate has been in place since October 2020. Currently, people not wearing a mask outdoors may face fines.
Although the outdoor mask mandate has been lifted in principle, Kim said the compulsory rule still applies to outdoor gatherings of 50 or more people, such as sports events and performances.
The mandate is also highly recommended for those who tested positive for Covid-19 or who are at high risk of infections.