Moon thanks people, medical workers as S. Korea returns to normal life

SEOUL-- President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday thanked people and medical workers for their efforts to battle COVID-19 as South Korea removed all social distancing measures, except a mask mandate, and returned to normal life.

"With social distancing fully lifted, people regained their daily lives," Moon told a Cabinet meeting. "I sincerely thank people, epidemic prevention and medical workers for their cooperation."

Starting Monday, restaurants, cafes and many other business establishments are able to operate freely without a curfew and people are allowed to gather in large groups with no limit in size, as the omicron wave waned.

The mask mandate is the only rule that will remain in place for now.

With daily infections and critical cases declining, health authorities downgraded the infectious disease level of COVID-19 to that of cholera and tuberculosis.

Moon said the downgrading allowed hospitals to return to their normal medical system.

Moon, whose term ends on May 9, also said he hopes the incoming administration will continue to promote balanced regional development.

Earlier in the day, the interior ministry signed an agreement with the local governments of Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province to launch a new European Union-like administrative unit aimed at promoting balanced regional development and invigorating local economies.

Source: Yonhap News Agency