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#Hot Issues of the Week l 2023-02-05
The nation’s indoor mask mandate was lifted for most locations in the country on Monday. Mask-wearing is now only required at high-risk facilities, such as hospitals and on public transportation, but health authorities forecast that even these restrictions could be lifted by May should the virus situation continue to improve.
Starting 12:00 a.m. Monday local time, authorities scrapped the indoor mask mandate for the first time in 27 months for all locations except high-risk facilities, such as nursing homes, as well as hospitals, pharmacies and public transport.
This means mask-wearing is recommended, but not required in places like indoor sports facilities, schools, discount chains and department stores.
It is, however, strongly advised for people at high risk of infection, after having contact with a COVID-19 patient or those with symptoms, inside closed-off high-density locations, or when there is group singing or cheering.
The government has also urged seniors aged 60 and older to get booster shots and the public to continue to follow basic quarantine rules, such as washing hands and regular ventilation.
In the 24-hour period to 12:00 a.m. Monday, seven-thousand-416 additional people had tested positive, the lowest daily tally since July 4 last year.
Jung Ki-suck, the nation's chief advisor on infectious diseases said he expects the nation to be ready by May for the second phase of mask mandate lifting, in which mask-wearing will not be required anywhere.
Authorities have previously said the second phase would be adopted after the infectious disease alert level is revised down from the highest level of "serious" to the second-highest level "vigilance," or third-highest "caution," on its four-tier scale, and when COVID-19 is adjusted to a "Class Four" disease.