The nation's chief advisor on infectious diseases has forecast that the remaining COVID-19 mask rules could be completely lifted by May.
This comes as the government implemented the first of two phases in lifting the indoor mask mandate on Monday, scrapping mandatory mask-wearing in all locations except high-risk facilities, such as hospitals, pharmacies and public transport.
At a press briefing on Monday, Jung Ki-suck said he expects the nation to be ready by May for the second phase, in which mask-wearing will not be required anywhere.
Authorities have previously said that the second phase would be adopted after the nation's infectious disease alert level is revised down from the highest level of "serious" to the second-highest level "vigilance," or third-highest "caution," on its four-tier scale, and when COVID-19 is adjusted to a "Class Four" disease.
Jung, however, urged continued mask-wearing for those in high-risk groups, including seniors, and inside closed-off, high-density venues. He also called on the public to get booster shots.
When asked about lifting the seven-day quarantine for patients, the chief advisor said steps could be considered when the alert level is revised down.