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South Korea begins fining people for not putting on face masks

November 14, 2020 | 10:17

South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public.

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Wearing face masks is now compulsory in South Korea (Photo: Korea Herald)
Wearing face masks is now compulsory in South Korea (Photo: Korea Herald)

While this has allowed high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the spread could force the government to seriously consider tightening social distancing again.

We are in a precarious situation,” he said, pleading for vigilance and for labor unions and civic groups to cancel planned rallies.

The 191 new cases Friday represented the sixth consecutive day above 100 and was the highest daily increase since Sept. 4, when authorities reported 198 new infections.

More than 120 of the cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where the coronavirus has spread in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants and offices.

The continuing spread has alarmed government officials, who have eased social distancing measures to soften the pandemic’s shock on the economy.

South Korea has so far weathered its outbreak without major lockdowns, relying on an aggressive test-and-quarantine program and relatively widespread use of masks.

On Friday, officials started imposing fines of up to 100,000 won ($90) for people who fail to wear masks in public transport and other venues, including hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, nightclubs, karaoke bars, religious and sports facilities.

In Seoul, city employees were deployed at subway stations and bus stops to monitor commuters, AP reported.

Earlier in October 27, the Russian government implemented a nationwide mask mandate, as coronavirus cases spike worldwide. Under the new mandate, masks will be mandatory in crowded public spaces, such as public transportation, parking lots and elevators, according to the order published on the website for the federal health watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor, also known as the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, according to CBS News.

In late October, the Scottish Government announced that all pupils and teachers must wear face masks in the classroom in areas facing tougher Covid-19 lockdown measures.

The Czech Republic on October 20 had gone back to square one in its battle against Covid-19, reinstating a strict mask mandate that was in place in the spring, and which the government lifted over the summer, believing it had the epidemic under control.

The country's Heath Minister Roman Prymula announced that masks will now be compulsory anywhere within urban areas and in cars. Previously, they were only mandatory indoors and on public transport, including at outdoor stations.

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(Photo: The Wire Science)

How to wear a cloth face mask

The CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask when you're around people who don't live with you and in public settings when social distancing is difficult, as reported by Mayo Clinic.

Here are a few pointers for putting on and taking off a cloth mask:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands before and after putting on and taking off your mask.
  • Place your mask over your mouth and nose.
  • Tie it behind your head or use ear loops and make sure it's snug.
  • Don't touch your mask while wearing it.
  • If you accidentally touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.
  • If your mask becomes wet or dirty, switch to a clean one. Put the used mask in a sealable bag until you can wash it.
  • Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.
  • Regularly wash your mask with soap and water by hand or in the washing machine. It's fine to launder it with other clothes.

Face mask precautions:

  • Don't put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Don't put masks on children under 2 years of age.
  • Don't use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.
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