South Korean officials say they plan to allow people to drop their masks from July if they have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, as they mull incentives to promote inoculation.
Health Minister Kwon Deok-choel said Wednesday the plan is contingent on the government succeeding in its goal of administering first doses to 13 million people by the end of June. Officials say people will continue to be required to wear mask indoors or at outdoor gatherings where it’s difficult to maintain distance.
Other incentives include providing vaccine-takers with discounts at public parks and museums and allowing them to participate in larger private gatherings. The country is currently clamping down on social gatherings of five or more people.
South Korea has wrestled with a slower vaccine rollout than many other developed economies.
Around 3.9 million people so far have received their first doses since the country launched its mass immunization program in late February, which represents less than 8% of the country’s 51 million population.
Health officials have lamented what they describe as excessive public fear of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been linked to rare blood-clotting side effects.
MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Vaccine inequality in India sends many falling through gaps
— Countries eager to reopen to travel as pandemic recedes
— UN official: Conflicts make controlling COVID more difficult
— A growing number of public schools in the U.S. are using mascots, food trucks and prize giveaways to encourage students to get vaccinated before summer vacation.
— The British government is facing accusations of reintroducing local lockdowns on the sly after it published new guidelines for eight areas of England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India.