The Japanese government will drop its recommendation to wear masks indoors and lower the medical classification for Covid-19, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.
The changes, which take effect in early May, will classify the disease at the same level as the flu, compared to its current status on par with tuberculosis and SARS.
“In terms of masking, whether indoors or outdoors, the decision is left to individuals,” Kishida said at a televised government meeting.
“We will take further steps towards ‘living with corona’ and make steady progress in returning to normalcy in homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and all walks of life.”
Masks are ubiquitous in public places and are also often worn outdoors, despite the government already saying they are not needed outside in quiet environments.
Even before the pandemic broke out in 2020, many people in Japan used masks when they had a cold or hay fever or to ward off illness in winter.
Polls from major media outlets have shown that most people will continue to wear masks for public health reasons even if the government withdraws its request.
The change means Covid-19 patients and their close contacts will no longer have to self-isolate from May 8 – after Japan’s ‘Golden Week’ holiday period.
South Korea also plans to drop its mandatory indoor masking from Monday, while China has relaxed its strict zero-Covid stance in a sharp policy reversal.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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