July 24, 2023
SEOUL – South Korea plans to loosen COVID-19 restrictions and lower its infectious disease rating as early as the beginning of August, said the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Sunday.
The government also plans to completely implement its “second phase of daily recovery measures” in August. Its first phase and a part of its second phase have been implemented since June 1.
Under the second phase, the official infectious disease rating for COVID-19 will be adjusted from level 2 to level 4, treating COVID-19 similarly to influenza. All remaining mask mandates will be lifted everywhere, including vulnerable places. COVID-19 testing costs and medical expenses will only be covered for those who need intensive care, while medicine and vaccination costs will remain subsidized for all.
However, the recent surge of COVID-19 cases could affect the government’s decision. While there were 16,025 cases in the third week of June, up to 26,708 cases were recorded in the second week of July.
If the second phase gets implemented as planned, the third phase — which symbolizes the end of the COVID-19 pandemic — will begin, which KDCA expects to announce in April 2024.