Seoul, South Korea: South Korea on Wednesday announced that people who have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors starting in July, in an effort to encourage more people to get COVID-19 jabs.
Public vaccine campaign programme announced at a daily interagency coronavirus response meeting also included a plan to lift the gathering ban for direct family members who have had their first vaccine dose, reported Yonhap News Agency.
South Korea launched its two-dose vaccination regimen campaign in February and plans to achieve herd immunity by November. The government has completed the inoculation of 1.9 million people, or 3.8 per cent of the country's 52 million population.
Starting in July, those who have received their first vaccine jabs can go outdoors without masks and will be exempt from capacity limits at religious facilities.
According to the news agency, religious facilities in the greater Seoul area are currently restricted from accepting more than 20 per cent of their full seating capacity, while those in other regions maintain a 30 per cent ceiling.
Starting next month, those who have received the first dose will also be exempt from the gathering ban of eight among direct family members and have access to community and welfare centers for seniors with fewer restrictions.
"Health authorities plan to fully revise the government's antivirus measures in late September when more than 70 per cent of people are projected to have received their first jabs," Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said adding "we will also review loosening indoor mask rules when reaching herd immunity."
Meanwhile, country's daily new COVID-19 cases sharply bounced back to a nearly two-week high today. It reported 707 more fresh coronavirus infections, including 684 local infections, raising the total caseload to 137,682, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.