The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

S. Korea lifts most COVID-19 restrictions

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : June 1, 2023 - 13:23

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A medical worker posts a notice at a public health center in Gwangju, Tuesday, informing people that the isolation mandate for COVID-19 patients will be shortened to five days and no longer be compulsory starting Thursday. (Yonhap) A medical worker posts a notice at a public health center in Gwangju, Tuesday, informing people that the isolation mandate for COVID-19 patients will be shortened to five days and no longer be compulsory starting Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea lifted nearly all its COVID-19 restrictions Thursday, including the isolation mandate for COVID-19 patients, as the country lowered the COVID-19 crisis level from the top level on Thursday.

On May 11, President Yoon Suk Yeol declared that the government would downgrade the status of the COVID-19 crisis from "serious," the highest level, to "alert," starting from Thursday, June 1.

With the alert level lowered, the COVID-19 isolation period of seven days has been shortened to five days and is no longer compulsory. The government said it recommends workers make full use of their paid and unpaid leave and work from home where possible during the five-day period.

Indoor mask mandates have now been lifted in almost all places, including clinic-level medical institutions and pharmacies. But the mandate will remain at hospital-grade or higher medical institutions that treat inpatients or residential medical facilities with groups vulnerable to infectious diseases.

The recommendation for taking a PCR test within three days of arrival here from abroad has also been lifted.

All seven COVID-19 temporary screening test centers in the country, including the one located outside Seoul Station, have suspended their operations. But regular screening clinics located at public health centers will continue to operate and offer PCR tests.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations and medication will continue to be provided. Support for treatment costs for inpatients, as well as for living expenses for confirmed low-income patients and paid leave for workers who are isolated or hospitalized with COVID-19 will be maintained for the time being.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, headed by the prime minister, has also been disbanded, and the Central Accident Response Headquarters, headed by the health and welfare minister, has been launched in its place. The statistics on the number of new COVID-19 cases will be released weekly instead of published daily.