SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry has ordered all service members to wear masks at all times in public, both indoors and outdoors, as part of efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Tuesday.
Under the rule effective Monday, any gatherings or training involving more than two people are banned unless masks are worn, according to the ministry.
The measure is in line with the government's stricter social distancing scheme, which has been in place since last week in the wake of a drastic surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Seoul city government also began to mandate that people wear face masks in public places Monday, except for when they are eating and drinking.
"This tougher mask rule will be effective until the level of the state anti-coronavirus guidance is lowered," the ministry said in a message to reporters.
On Tuesday, South Korea reported 280 new virus cases, including 264 local infections, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Since mid-August, the country's daily cases have been in the triple digits.
As of Tuesday, the total COVID-19 caseload among military members came to 94. Currently, 1,051 service members are in isolation in accordance with the health authorities' guidelines, and the military has quarantined an additional 3,860 people under stricter anti-virus schemes of its own as a preventive step, according to the ministry.
The military authorities have been implementing diverse measures to stem the spread of the virus. The ministry has restricted all service members from vacationing and off-installation trips since last week. It also called off annual field training for reserve forces for the first time in 52 years.
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