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12 Oct 2020 | 08:24 AM UTC

South Korea: Mandatory wearing of face masks introduced from October 13 /update 38

South Korea News Alert

Authorities introduce mandatory wearing of face masks in public places from October 13; follow official directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/13/2020, 12:00 AM until 12/2/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Seoul). COUNTRY/REGION South Korea

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South Korean authorities announced that the wearing of face masks in public places will be made mandatory from Tuesday, October 13, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The mandatory restriction will apply to all people over the age of 14, as well as those unable to wear masks due to medical conditions. If people do not adhere to the new measure, a fine of 100,000 won ($87) will be charged to them. The fine may be imposed on those who wear the masks under their nose.

From Monday, October 12, nighttime entertainment establishments are set to reopen and sporting fixtures with limited crowds in attendance will resume following a slowing in infection rates in recent weeks. Facilities will have to comply with government health guidelines upon reopening. Other restrictions are set to remain in place, including the prohibiting of religious gatherings and door-to-door sales businesses. Measures on seating arrangements based on social distancing will remain in place for cafes and restaurants in the greater Seoul area, which continues to have the highest infection rate.

All those arriving in South Korea are required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period and take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. A 'fast-track' has been set up for essential business trips and official travel from Singapore, China, the UAE, and Indonesia, whereby travelers need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72-96 hours prior to arrival depending on the country of origin. They will then be required to take another test on arrival and once this is confirmed negative, they are free to enter South Korea. South Korean and Japanese authorities announced on Tuesday, October 6, that short and long term business travel will be permitted between the two countries from Thursday, October 8.

As of Sunday, October 11, South Korean authorities have recorded 24,703 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 433 associated fatalities. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider. 


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