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PM announces criteria for easing indoor mask mandate

All News 09:55 December 23, 2022

SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Friday the government will decide when to lift the indoor mask mandate, the country's last remaining COVID-19 restriction, if two of four criteria are met, such as a fall in severe cases and deaths.

The three other criteria are stability in COVID-19 cases, stable medical response capabilities and immunity among high-risk people, Han said in his opening remarks for a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting.

"If two of the four criteria are met, we will decide the timing of the implementation," Han said.

The government has been considering downgrading the indoor mask requirement to a recommendation as critics have questioned its efficacy over inconveniences and some study results have suggested sufficient immunity among the population.

Even if the mandate is lifted, however, it will remain in place at hospitals and other high-risk facilities, he said.

Noting that infections may temporarily spike upon easing the mask mandate, the prime minister urged municipal authorities and health officials to stay vigilant.

He also encouraged people to get vaccine shots, saying only 29 percent of those aged 60 and older have been inoculated for the winter.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo presides over a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting in Seoul on Dec. 23, 2022. (Yonhap)

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo presides over a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting in Seoul on Dec. 23, 2022. (Yonhap)

This Dec. 22, 2022, photo shows a sign at a Seoul shopping mall asking visitors to wear masks. (Yonhap)

This Dec. 22, 2022, photo shows a sign at a Seoul shopping mall asking visitors to wear masks. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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