Go to Main Content
T T

Press Releases

  • Seoul sets up guidelines for mandatory wearing of face masks for the first time in Korea

  • Press Releases SMG 2157
    • Seoul draws up detailed guidelines for the mandatory wearing of face masks and discloses them through its websites so that citizens can follow them properly in their daily lives
    • The guidelines consist of five parts including the places a mask should be worn and exclusions from the mandatory wearing of masks
    • Q&A books will be also published for the citizens’ better understanding of the guidelines
    • The city government will listen to the citizens’ voices and continue to make improvements on the guidelines
    • The Director-General responsible for the citizens’ health affairs said, “Seoul’s last and only hopes are the “citizens and masks.” We sincerely ask each citizen to voluntarily comply well with the guidelines”

    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, September 2, 2020 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it drew up detailed guidelines for the mandatory wearing of face masks for the first time in the country and disclosed them through its websites so that citizens can follow them properly in their daily lives.

    Q&A books will also be published and distributed to give the right answers to the questions many citizens would like to know. For example:

    “Should I wear a face mask when taking a walk alone in the park?,” “May I take off my mask when I am in a car?,” “Do I have to wear a mask even when I am alone at the workplace?,” “Should I put a mask on my 12-month-old baby?,” “Is it ok to wear a mask below the chin?”…

    Since the administrative order saying everyone should wear a mask while being in the city took effect as of August 24, there have been many inquiries about it from the citizens. That is the reason for the Seoul Metropolitan Government to set up details on it.

    These guidelines consist of five parts: 1) why we should wear a mask; 2) who should wear a mask; 3) where we should wear a mask; 4) who can be excluded from the mandatory wearing of masks; and 5) how we wear a mask. Among those five parts, 3) and 4) are the two ones citizens are most confused about.

    As to 3), the spaces where a mask is required to be worn include all indoor spaces and outdoor ones where there is a high possibility of contacting people, such as outdoor meetings, gatherings, events, and rallies; and there is difficulty in physically staying at least two meters apart from people.

    Regarding 4), some exclusions from the mandatory wearing of masks are when you are ① staying in a private place; ② eating ③ in an inevitable situation. If you are in one of the three situations, you may not wear a mask regardless of where you.

    ① When you are staying in a private place: It means you are at home – alone in a separate place of home or together with your family members.

    ② When you are eating: It includes drinking alcohol or coffee, and smoking cigarettes as well as eating foods and snacks. However, you should always wear a mask before/after eating and in-between when you have conversations with others.

    ③ When you are in an inevitable situation: They include the following five situations – when you have difficulty with breathing or deterioration of health because of masks; when you need to take off a mask for your health or hygiene activities; when you need to take off a mask for your public duties; when you cannot wear a mask for your job or making a living; and when you are in a particular place that you cannot wear a mask.

    Since these detailed guidelines are carried out for the first time in Korea, Seoul will see some areas in which there is a distinct lack of clarity in reality. So, the city government said it will listen to the citizens’ voices and continue to make improvements to them.

    Director-General Park Yumi, who is responsible for the citizens’ health affairs, said, “Although we are making every effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the number of confirmed cases has not gone down. Seoul’s last and only hopes are the “citizens and masks.” We sincerely ask each citizen to become the main player for quarantine measures and voluntarily comply well with the guidelines.”

    Detailed Guidelines for Administrative Order for Mandatory Mask-Wearing

    [Overview of Administrative Order] ▶ Target: All residents and visitors throughout Seoul
    ▶ Content: Wearing masks indoors and outdoors ※ Except for inevitable cases such as when in an ordinary, private living space, eating food, etc.
    ▶ Period: August 24, 2020 (Mon.) – when the order is lifted

    ■ Necessity of Mandatory Mask-Wearing
    ○ Most Effective Way to Protect Oneself and One’s Neighbors
    – Risk of being infected decreases by 85% when wearing a mask (source: international academic journal THE LANCET, 2020)
    ※ 5 times higher possibility of being infected when not wearing a mask

    Prevention of additional infections through mask-wearing (source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
    ▪ Three individuals who were in the same moving vehicle with a confirmed patient for one hour: All negative
    ▪ 17 medical workers who came into contact with a confirmed patient who was hospitalized in their hospital for seven days: All negative
    ▪ Four workers of a cafe in which 28 confirmed cases were generated: All negative

    ■ Targets of Mandatory Mask-Wearing: All residents and visitors throughout Seoul
    ○ “Residents of Seoul” refers to individuals who are registered and actually living in an administrative district of Seoul.

    When a resident of Seoul visits an administrative district other than Seoul
    ▪ As the spatial range of the administrative order of mandatory mask-wearing is within Seoul, a resident of Seoul is not the target of mandatory mask-wearing when he/she visits an administrative district outside of Seoul.

    ○ “Visitors of Seoul” refers to individuals who are registered and actually living in an administrative district outside of Seoul but are currently in Seoul for any purpose including commuting, sales, and travel.

    ■ Spatial Range of Mandatory Mask-Wearing: Indoor and outdoor spaces located in an administrative district of Seoul
    ○ (Definition of “indoor space”) Everyone must wear a mask in all structures that are separated from the outdoors in all directions, such as means of transportation including buses, subway trains, ships, airplanes, and other vehicles, as well as buildings.
    ○ (Definition of “outdoor space”) Everyone must wear a mask in each case listed below.
    – When coming into contact with people at a gathering, meeting, event (performance), or public assembly

    Definition of “gathering,” “meeting,” “event,” and “public assembly”
    ▪ (Gathering, meeting, event) A gathering, meeting, or an event that is held by people who come together at the same place for the same purpose according to a predetermined agreement, appointment, or schedule
    ▪ (Public assembly) An assembly or gathering that is defined by the Assembly and Demonstration Act

    – When there is a risk of coming into contact with any person other than those with which one lives (family members) because it is hard to keep a distance of 2 meters

    ■ Exemptions from Mandatory Mask-Wearing: In ordinary private life and inevitable cases, such as eating

    ➊ When in an ordinary, private living space
    – When in a dwelling (at home)
    – When alone in a separate space or with people with which one lives (family members)
    ※ Everyone must wear a mask when anyone other than those living together visits a separate space

    Criteria for mask-wearing when using a vehicle (car)
    ▪ When alone or together with people with which one lives: Not wearing a mask permitted
    ▪ When together with any person with which one does not live: Mandatory mask-wearing

    ➋ When eating ※ One must wear a mask before and after eating, as well as when conversing
    – When having a meal or snack
    – When having any consumable, such as alcohol, cigarettes, tea, and coffee

    ➌ Other inevitable cases ※ When it comes to ②-⑤, one must wear a mask before and after activities

    ① When wearing a mask can lead to dyspnea or deterioration of health

    ▪ Infants younger than 24 months old
    ▪ Critical patients
    ▪ Patients with underlying respiratory diseases who find it difficult to breathe when wearing a mask

    ② When one must take off the mask for medical or sanitary activities

    ▪ When medical activities, such as examination, treatment, and administration, are possible only without a mask
    ▪ When performing personal sanitary activities, such as taking a bath, showering, washing one’s face, and brushing one’s teeth

    ③ When necessary for the smooth execution of public business

    ▪ When it is clearly difficult to achieve an objective while wearing a mask a mask during public business of the central or local government or public institution, such as foreign affairs, national defense, investigation, rescue, relief, press releases, etc.
    ▪ When one must follow a demand for identification by the central or local government or a public institution
    ▪ When one takes a picture of oneself (ID picture, passport photo, etc.) to submit to the central or local government or a public institution
    ▪ When a teacher or a lecturer creates an online lecture video following the untact education guidelines from the central and local governments

    ④ When one must take off the mask for one’s job or earning money

    ▪ When a professional singer, actor/actress, dubbing artist, broadcaster, model, artist, etc. becomes a main figure of audiovisual materials or a performance
    ▪ When an athlete participates in a game
    ▪ When a professional musician of a wind instrument performs on stage

    ⑤ When it is difficult to wear a mask due to the characteristics of the place

    ▪ When participating in water activities, such as swimming, etc.

    ※ One must wear a mask if one has a fever or respiratory symptoms, even when the exemptions from mandatory mask-wearing is applicable

    ■ Acknowledged Types of Mask-Wearing
    ○ Types of masks
    – All types of masks, including sanitary, surgical, droplet-proof and cotton masks, are permitted
    – However, wearing the “quasi-drugs” masks authorized by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is strongly recommended

    Mask-Wearing Guidelines of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety
    ▪ KF94+ mask: When taking care of a suspected COVID-19 patient
    ▪ KF80+ mask
    – When one has respiratory symptoms, such as cough and sore throat
    – When an individual with vulnerable health or underlying diseases comes into contact with other people
    * Individual with vulnerable health: Elderly, children, pregnant women, individual with chronic disease
    ** Individual with underlying diseases: Individual with chronic lung disease, diabetes, chronic renal disease, chronic liver disease, chronic cardiovascular disease, hematologic malignancy, cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, patient taking immunosuppressive
    ▪ Droplet-proof & surgical masks
    – When one must wear a mask for many hours / during the hot summer season / when it is uncomfortable to breathe

    ○ How to wear a mask
    – Wear a mask that matches the size of your face and make sure to cover both your nose and mouth
    ※ Failure to cover your nose and mouth will be considered as failure to wear a mask