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Outdoor Mask Mandate Lifted, COVID-19 Spread Slows Further

#Hot Issues of the Week l 2022-05-08



The outdoor mask mandate was lifted at the start of last week amid a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

The move came 566 days after the government introduced the mask mandate in October 2020, and now leaves only a comprehensive mask-wearing mandate indoors.

The outdoor mask mandate, however, will remain in place for rallies, concerts, sporting events and other gatherings of 50 people or more.

People with a fever, cough or other COVID-19 symptoms, senior citizens and unvaccinated people are recommended to continue wearing masks outdoors.

Mask wearing is also recommended when it’s difficult for people to keep a one-meter distance from each other at gatherings.

In addition, health authorities have lowered the warning level for COVID-19 in regions outside the greater Seoul area as the omicron wave continues to recede.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said on Tuesday that the risk alerts posed by the pandemic in all regions outside Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province in the week-long period ending last Saturday have been lowered to “medium” from “high” in the past week. 

It marked the first time in 15 weeks that the risk level for non-capital areas was deemed lower than “high.” The risk levels for the capital region and the whole nation were both downgraded to “medium” last week. 

The KDCA said the number of new COVID-19 cases declined for the fifth consecutive week since the third week of March, adding that rate of ICU beds used for critically ill patients nationwide also remained low at 26-point-three percent. 

The COVID-19  risk levels are measured according to 18 criteria with “medium” being the median level in a five-tier system.

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