South Korea on Monday lifted most of its mandatory rules for the wearing of masks indoors after more than two years, as the country is believed to have entered a downward trend in the COVID-19 pandemic.

People are now allowed to visit most indoor locations, including schools and gyms, without masks. But the mask mandate remains in place for public transport and locations such as hospitals, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

A poster pictured on Jan. 30, 2023, at a subway station in Seoul notifies passengers that the wearing of masks remains mandatory on trains but otherwise is no longer a must on the station premises after South Korea lifted most of its mandatory indoor mask-wearing rules. (Kyodo)

The government also reiterated that the number of COVID-19 patients may increase after the easing of the indoor mask mandate, which has been in effect since October 2020, and it will closely monitor the situation going forward.

The mandate for wearing masks outdoors was lifted in May last year.

On Monday, South Korea reported 7,416 new cases of coronavirus infection over a 24-hour period, according to the agency, bringing the cumulative caseload to 30,157,017. The death toll stood at 6,239, with 30 more cases added.