Anchor: Passengers on buses and subways will no longer have to wear masks from Monday as the government has decided to further relax its mask rules. Face coverings are still required at hospitals and high-risk facilities.
Lee Bo-kyung has the details.
Report: The government has decided to end the indoor mask mandate on public transit from Monday, lifting one of the last remaining COVID-19 quarantine rules.
Vice interior minister Han Chang-seob announced the decision in a government meeting on COVID-19 responses on Wednesday, citing a 38-percent drop in daily infections since a general easing of the mandate on January 30 amid a stable virus situation.
However, the vice minister advised those at high risk of infection or at high-risk facilities to continue to wear masks.
The lifting of the mandate on public transportation comes 29 months after the nation introduced a mask mandate in October 2020.
Starting Monday, the indoor mask mandate will also be lifted for pharmacies located inside large-scale facilities such as retail stores or train stations.
Wearing masks will continue to be required at regular pharmacies, hospitals and high-risk facilities such as nursing homes.
Last May, the government lifted its outdoor mask rule in a major step toward a return to normality, followed eight months later by a suspension of the mandate for most indoor locations except high-risk facilities, hospitals and on public transportation.
With the World Health Organization expected to downgrade the pandemic from a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in late April or early May, the government will likely adjust accordingly with an end to all mask mandates as well as the seven-day self quarantine policy.
Lee Bo-kyung, KBS World Radio News.