Seoul city mandates face masks in anti-virus fight

SEOUL, South Korea’s capital began to mandate face masks Monday in its latest efforts to put the brakes on the new coronavirus that is spreading at an alarming rate in Seoul and surrounding areas.
Under the move, all Seoul residents are required to wear masks at indoor areas, as well as crowded outdoor venues, with the exception of taking them off for meals, according to the Seoul metropolitan government.
The city had previously mandated face masks on buses, taxis and subways starting in mid-May when the country saw a spike in infections traced to nightlife facilities in the capital.
“By mandating masks, we hope to again set the notion and remind all residents that wearing face masks is the basics of staying safe in everyday life, as well as a social promise,” the city’s acting Mayor Seo Jeong-hyup said in a Sunday press briefing.
The mask rule came as infections in the greater Seoul area sharply jumped due to church-related cluster infections and chain transmissions.
The city identified more than 1,000 new virus cases between Aug. 15 and 22 alone, compared with some 1,800 cases that were reported from Jan. 20, when the country confirmed its first case, to Aug. 14, according to government data.
Seoul is not the first South Korean city or province to mandate masks. Gyeonggi Province, which is next to the capital, and North Chungcheong Province have also issued administrative orders mandating face masks.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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