South Korea to lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions

Seoul, Apr 15 (EFE).- South Korea announced on Friday that it will lift almost all Covid-19 social restrictions, except for the mandatory use of masks, as case numbers continue to fall.

Starting Apr. 18, cafes, bars and restaurants will no longer have to close at midnight and the 10-people cap on private gatherings will be lifted, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced at a press conference.

“Omicron has shown signs of weakening significantly after peaking in the third week of March” when the country was recording over 600,000 daily cases, Kim said, according to Yonhap news agency.

“Indoor mask wearing will be unavoidable for a considerable time. With regard to outdoor mask wearing, which poses a relatively lower risk, we will decide after two weeks, based on a review of the virus situation,” he added.

The prime minister also announced the end of other restrictions, including the 299-person cap for large-scale events and the 70-percent capacity limit for places of worship.

Eating will also be allowed in movie theaters.

South Korea handled the first few waves of infection very well owing to its comprehensive tracking and testing systems and imposed very few restrictions until January 2021.

The country lifted the restrictions in November last year but re-imposed them a month later amid a sixth wave followed by another driven by the Omicron variant.

Kim also announced that from Apr. 25, Covid-19 will be downgraded from a Class 1 infectious level disease to Class 2, the same category as Ebola and MERS.

This will allow those infected to be treated in a more flexible manner and without the need for the current mandatory seven-day quarantine.

The prime minister warned, however, that despite this return to normalcy, the government will be prepared for a possible resurgence of the virus.

The country, which has been recording an average of 160,000 daily infections in the last week, has detected a total of around 16 million infections and just over 20,000 deaths, with a fatality rate of 0.13 percent. EFE


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