South Korea to ease indoor mask mandate

South Korea plans to ease its indoor mask mandate at the end of this month, after the Lunar New Year holidays.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told a task force meeting on Friday that the daily number of new infections of the coronavirus has been declining for three weeks.

He said three out of the four criteria for relaxing the mandate, including numbers of deaths and critically ill patients, have been met.

Han said the measure will be downgraded from "obligation" to "recommendation" on January 30.

But people will be still required to wear masks on public transportation and at medical facilities.

South Korea stopped requiring masks outdoors last September.

With the latest decision, people will no longer need to wear masks in most places.

A South Korean media outlet says that in a survey of 2,200 people conducted last week, more than 65 percent of respondents said they will continue to wear masks indoors even if it's no longer mandatory.