SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- The government's decision to lift the mask mandate on public transportation and pharmacies in open public spaces will go into effect this week amid a gradual COVID-19 virus downtrend.
The removal of the mask mandate on public transportation, including subways, buses, taxis and planes, Monday comes 2 1/2 years after the government adopted the mask rule in October 2020.
COVID-19 infections have been on the decline since the removal of most indoor mask mandates in late January. On Jan. 30, the government removed the mask requirement for most indoor places, except for public transportation, hospitals and a few other high-risk areas.
According to polls conducted in January, 7 out of 10 people said they will continue to wear masks due to health reasons even after the lifting of the indoor mask mandate.
The mask mandate will remain in place for medical facilities, pharmacies, nursing homes and other infection-prone places. But pharmacies in open public spaces, such as discount stores and train stations, will be exempt from the requirement.
The government said it will decide whether to lift the mask rule for those infection-prone facilities in late April or early May when the World Health Organization could vote to downgrade COVID-19 on a global level at its next meeting scheduled for the end of April.