South Korea plans to lift mask mandate for outdoor gatherings

Seoul: The South Korean government plans to lift the mask mandate for large outdoor gatherings, such as sporting events and concerts, starting this week amid a steady decline in new Covid-19 cases, officials said Thursday. responsible.

The decision came after an expert advisory committee on the government’s infectious disease response policy recommended lifting the ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people, Yonhap news agency reports.

Currently, people not wearing a mask at such large outdoor events are subject to a fine.

In May, the government lifted the outdoor mask mandate for individuals, but retained the mask rule for large outdoor group gatherings, such as sporting events and concerts, and outdoor gatherings.

The government plans to announce the decision as early as this week.

The rules for wearing a mask indoors, however, remain in place for the time being, according to officials.

On Thursday, new COVID cases fell to the lowest number in nearly three months as the wave of the virus slows to a steady pace.

In the past 24 hours, the country reported 33,009 new infections, including 255 from overseas, bringing the total number of cases to 24,535,940, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. ).

The latest tally is down more than 8,200 from the previous day and the lowest for a Thursday figure since 18,494 recorded on July 7.

The total death toll currently stands at 28,009.

Sara H. Byrd