Companies across Japan are discussing what to do in regard to the Japanese government making a policy change that allows masks to be optional. This policy change is to go into effect beginning March 13th.
COVID policy update
The Japanese government eased all existing COVID-19 guidelines after it downgraded the legal status of the COVID-19 virus. With this decision, COVID-19 is moved to the same category as common infectious diseases, like the seasonal flu.
The new updated policy allows individuals to choose if they would like to wear a mask. Although there was never a strict mask mandate in Japan, mask-wearing became very common after the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that the decision to put on a mask, indoors or outdoors, is now to be left to the individual. Wearing a mask is still going to be shown as an effective measure to prevent the spread of disease. Kishida is hopeful that easing these restrictions will help boost both economic and social activities.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Additionally, this policy change comes shortly after slightly easing border restrictions from China. The Japanese government announced last month that it would begin testing passengers from China at random. Since December, Japan has been testing every passenger that was traveling from China for COVID-19. The passengers would also need to provide proof of recently testing negative prior to boarding.
Requiring a proof of testing negative will still be required. In addition, the Japanese government will begin allowing flights from China to different airports. Currently, direct flights from China are only allowed to land at Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport, and Kansai International Airport.
The transportation industry
This policy change will have a direct impact on the transportation industry. Starting March 13th, it will not be necessary to wear a mask using public transport in Japan. However, there will still be recommendations in various situations. Some of these situations include traveling during rush hour in crowded buses or trains, during visits to medical institutions, or if the individual has symptoms of COVID-19. The policy change also notes that wearing masks is not required on bullet trains, expressway buses, or other modes of transportation where most passengers are sitting in individually ticketed seats.
In addition to public transport changes, schools will also be affected. Masks will once again be optional for students, although they will be encouraged if the student is concerned about their health. The updated policy also no longer urges students or teachers to wear face masks at graduation ceremonies this spring. Additional health measures have also been put in place in schools, such as proper room ventilation.
Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan
The Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan is a group made up of nineteen domestic airline companies, including Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, that are located in Japan. This association will soon let each passenger decide whether they want to wear a mask or not.
This decision falls in line with the government’s nationwide COVID-19 policy update and will roll into place beginning March 13th. This move comes after many airlines across the world have already eased their own COVID-19-related policies.