|Rep. Kweon Seong-dong of the ruling People Power Party attends a parliamentary hearing for the parliamentary science, ICT, broadcasting and communications committee at the National Assembly, Oct. 17. Yonhap|
A ranking lawmaker of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) called Monday for the immediate launch of preparations to lift the indoor mask mandate, raising questions over its efficacy and saying most advanced nations have already done away with it.
The remark by Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, a former PPP floor leader considered one of the PPP lawmakers closest to President Yoon Suk-yeol, marks the first time that a senior PPP member has called for lifting the requirement.
His remark also came after the central city of Daejeon sent an official document to health authorities notifying them of its plan to take autonomous steps to lift the mask requirement for indoor places if the rule is not removed on nationwide.
"The Republic of Korea should immediately prepare for the lifting of the indoor mask mandate," Kweon said, noting how countries like the U.S., Britain and France have scrapped all mask mandates and those like Germany and Italy only require masks in medical facilities and on public transportation.
"After going maskless when outdoors, we need to put it on when entering a restaurant and take it off when drinking water and put it back on when going to take the food. After that, we take it off when eating and put it on when paying the bill," he said. "Skepticism people have about how effective this measure is should be respected."
Kweon also claimed that it is now time to "give back the freedom of daily life" to the people who diligently followed the government's measures against the coronavirus.
Despite the recent calls for lifting the mandate, Jung Ki-suck, chair of a private-government advisory panel on infectious diseases, objected to the idea, citing risks of a spike in COVID-19 and flu cases that could lead to another massive virus wave. (Yonhap)