South Korea to allow people to take masks off outside from next Monday amid a decreasing trend in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Kim Boo Kyum said Friday.

"The government has decided to adjust preventive measures (for the coronavirus) given the decreasing trend that has been continuing for the past six weeks," Kim said in his regular COVID-19 response meeting.

Young people clad in traditional Korean clothing enjoy viewing blossoms at Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul on April 11, 2022, wearing facial masks for protection against the coronavirus. (Kyodo)

The decision came after the government decided to scrap social distancing rules last week including limits on the opening hours of businesses and the number of people allowed in private gatherings.

People will still have to wear masks when they attend gatherings of more than 50 people, Kim added.

President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol's transition team, however, called Friday's announcement "premature."

South Korea reported 50,568 new coronavirus infections on Friday after hitting more than 600,000 daily cases in mid-March. The cumulative number came to 17,194,616, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

South Korean President Moon Jae In receives his fourth shot of a coronavirus vaccine in Seoul on April 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the presidential office)(Kyodo)

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