"The fact remains that masks are the most basic means of protecting ourselves from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)." (Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
When the government announced that it would lift the obligation to wear masks indoors from the 30th, the most emphasized point was that "it does not mean that you can no longer wear a mask." Masks are still the most powerful means of preventing COVID-19 infection, but they only lift "legal obligations" to minimize inconvenience to citizens. Some fear that the number of confirmed cases may increase after the Lunar New Year holiday (21-24), and that if the obligation to wear masks indoors is lifted, it may spread to a resurgence.
"Even if a new variant enters the country, it is unlikely that we will re-impose the indoor mask mandate unless it spreads very quickly like the Omicron variant and poses a great threat to medical response capabilities," Ji said at a briefing on the 20th.
There is an analysis that this move is a signal for South Korea to move toward an "endemic," which means "the end of the pandemic." Eunmi Cheon, professor of respiratory medicine at Ewha University Mokdong Hospital, said, "It is the release of the 'last link' that was stuck on the road to the endomy, and it is the pinnacle of returning to daily life."
However, the government has not lifted the obligation to wear masks in medical institutions, pharmacies, social welfare facilities and public transportation. This is because they take into account those who are vulnerable to infection and those at high risk. This is because if people take off their masks in facilities that are used by multiple people and are highly crowded, COVID-19 can spread again quickly. Even after 30 days, the quarantine authorities said that it is strongly recommended to wear masks in △3 mile (closed, crowded, close-knit)' environments, △contact with people with confirmed COVID-19, and high-risk groups (60 years of age or older, people with underlying diseases).
Private establishments such as restaurants, cafes, and companies are no longer legally required to wear masks, but business owners, presidents, and managers can ask customers and employees to "wear masks" at their own discretion. The authorities respect this judgment. [DongaIlbo]