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Japan Easing Mask Guidelines for First Time Since Pandemic Start

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TOKYO, March 13 – Japan is, for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, relaxing recommendations for wearing masks in public places, including in transportation and education establishments; From Monday, the decision to wear masks indoors, which used to be a mandatory measure, is left to each person’s discretion.
According to the new recommendations, passengers will be encouraged to wear masks on trains and buses only during rush hour or in case of heavy crowds. The recommendation to wear masks on high-speed long-distance trains or night buses, where passenger seats are pre-assigned, will also be removed.
Education students will no longer be required to wear masks during lessons, including during singing lessons. In addition, for the first time in three years since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, school children and students, as well as teachers at graduation and boot ceremonies this spring, will not be allowed to wear masks, but they will leave this issue to themselves.

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However, masks will continue to be worn if symptoms of illness appear or when visiting medical facilities.
At the same time, according to the Kyodo Agency, every fourth Japanese intends to continue wearing masks after easing the recommendations, explaining this by the already established habit and fear of infection. Only 5.5% of Japanese people are willing to give up masks immediately in any situation.
In February, the Japanese government decided from May 8 to equate the coronavirus in terms of danger with the seasonal flu, which removes virtually all previously imposed restrictions, including the wearing of masks indoors. Until now, in front of the entrance to every store there was a sign that the visitor must wear a mask, and in some places the temperature of those who entered was taken.
The fact that masks could not be worn on the street was announced last summer, however, the vast majority of people in big cities have continued to wear them so far.

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