The Bruneian

South Korea lifts outdoor mask mandate, incoming government concerned


South Korea said on Friday it will lift an outdoor face mask mandate next week in the country’s latest step to ease COVID-19 restrictio­ns, despite opposition from the incoming government which labelled the decision “premature”.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the decision was made as the government could “no longer look away” from the inconvenie­nces experience­d by its citizens when the country’s virus situation was stabilisin­g.

People are still required to wear masks at events with 50 attendants or more, such as at rallies, concerts and sports stadiums, Kim said.

South Korea reported 50,568 new coronaviru­s cases on Friday, well down from the peak of more than 620,000 a day in mid-March.

The decision came just days ahead of newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol’s inaugurati­on on May 10 and despite his team’s opposition, prompting them to immediatel­y express regrets and concerns over the announceme­nt.

“The transition team agrees with pushing for the lifting of maskwearin­g mandate as part of efforts to return to normal life, but we have stressed multiple times that removing the outdoor mask mandate at this point would be premature,” a spokespers­on for Yoon’s team, Hong Kyung-hee, told a briefing.

Ahn Cheol-soo, the head of Yoon’s transition team, had said earlier this week that the new government will consider going mask-free outdoors around endMay.

South Korea has already scrapped most of its pandemicre­lated precaution­s, including a midnight curfew on restaurant­s and other businesses. read more

The country has largely managed to limit deaths and critical cases through widespread vaccinatio­n, and it has scaled back the aggressive tracing and containmen­t efforts that made it a mitigation success story from most of the first two years of the pandemic.

Nearly 87% of South Korea’s 52 million population are fully vaccinated, with 65% having also had a booster, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency data.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Brunei