Japan mulls easing of mask requirements in schools

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Japan mulls easing of mask requirements in schools

TOKYO -- The Japanese government is considering relaxing mask requirements at the elementary, junior high and some other schools from as early as March ahead of the downgrading of COVID 19 to Category 5 under the infectious disease control law, government sources said on January 24.

Children in schools should wear masks when they are unable to keep a sufficient physical distance from others, according to the guidelines from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. However, people have pointed out the negative aspects of wearing masks, such as the lack of communication between children and the adverse effects on their development, amid prolonged measures against the coronaviruses.

On January 20th, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the government planned to downgrade COVID-19 under the infectious disease control law this spring from Category 2 equivalent, under which authorities can impose restrictions on people, to category 5, or the same level as seasonal influenza. He also announced plans to relax regulations requiring the wearing of masks indoors. The government is considering waiting until early May to make the transition to Category 5 because local governments and other bodies need time to prepare for the change. Officials are poised to decide on the specific timing of the move as early as this week.

At a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party on Jan. 24, officials suggested that the timing of the revision of guidelines be moved forward so that people can take part in graduation ceremonies and entrance ceremonies without masks.