S.Korea to lift most COVID curbs from next week as Omicron wanes

South Korea said on Friday it will drop most COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions next week, including a midnight curfew on eateries, as the Omicron surge in cases shows signs of waning, although people will still have to wear masks.

From April 18, the midnight curfew on restaurants and other businesses will be scrapped, along with the cap on private gatherings which was set at 10, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a coronavirus response meeting.

“Wearing masks is still a very important means to protect ourselves,” Kim said. “It is inevitable to maintain the indoor mask mandate for a considerable period of time.”

On wearing masks outdoors, Kim said the government will review whether to lift the existing restriction in two weeks, depending on the virus situation.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country appears to have passed its peak after hovering over 620,000 a day in mid-March, with the daily infections falling to below 150,000 on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the government announced its plan to expand the rollout of second COVID-19 booster shot for people over 60.

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Women wearing masks walk in a shopping district amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2022. Photo: Reuters / HEO RAN

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