In a shift of policy, the Japanese government has announced that they will no longer recommend the wearing of masks indoors and will downgrade their medical classification for COVID-19 from its current status on par with tuberculosis and SARS, to the same level as the flu. This change is set to take place from early May, with individuals in Japan being able to make their own decisions about whether or not to wear a mask indoors or outdoors. This announcement comes as many polls show that individuals will continue to wear masks for public health purposes, even if the government lifts their recommendation.
Furthermore, from May 8, COVID-19 patients and their close contacts will no longer have to isolate. This shift in policy follows similar changes in South Korea and China, who have both eased their strict zero-COVID stances.
Despite this shift in policy, Japan's vaccination programme is lagging behind many other countries, with Tokyo and other areas facing tighter restrictions until the end of February. It is hoped that with the government's new recommendations, individuals will continue to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety, while also helping to reduce the spread of the virus.