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Monday, September 26 2022
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Japan eases rules on wearing masks outdoors

Japan's Covid cases more than doubled in 2 months
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Tokyo: A top Japanese government official said on Wednesday that wearing of face masks outdoors would no longer be necessary as long as people maintain proper social distancing measures against Covid-19.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, as the mercury and humidity rise in Japan, masks will not be required to be worn outside as the risk of heatstroke and heat-related illnesses could increase, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We recommend that people take off their masks outside as long as sufficient distance is maintained, especially when temperatures and humidity are high,” Matsuno was quoted as saying at a press briefing.

“Experts say high-risk behaviour, such as talking to people in close proximity without masks, should be avoided. Proper mask-wearing is necessary if you cannot maintain enough distance with others outside and talk with them,” he added.

He also highlighted the fact that the government’s review of its antiviral measures will continue as will the monitoring of the country’s Covid-19 infection rate in twine with virologists and medical experts.

With some other major economies also scrapping rules, or mandates on mask wearing amid declining numbers of new cases, Japan’s easing of the mask mandate comes as the government is also planning to raise the cap on new arrivals per day from overseas to 20,000 people per day in June.

Japan’s government is arranging to double the cap on arrivals from overseas to 20,000 people per day in June, with quarantine measures for new arrivals currently under review.

Following the quarantine review related to airports’ systems and pending the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Japan following the Golden Week string of national holidays here, which ended last week, the easing is expected to be green-lit, local accounts said.

Small-scale trial tours comprising overseas visitors may be go into effect as early as this month, government sources were quoted as saying, with the number of visitors being granted access expanded in stages.

As Japan was experiencing a resurgence in infections last November, a ban on non-resident foreign nationals was imposed.

The lengthy ban, the strictest among the G7 countries, however, was heavily criticised by institutions and business lobbies.

The strict border controls were thereafter eased in phases, with business people, students, Japanese nationals returning from overseas and foreign residents allowed to enter, although the restriction remained in place for tourists.

The daily cap on foreign arrivals was raised from 3,500 first imposed in November to 5,000.

On March 1, it was lifted to 7,000 and on March 14. The cap at 10,000 has been in place since April 10.

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