Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a meeting with cabinet members on Friday and instructed them to revise COVID-19 restrictions and reevaluate risks posed by the disease by spring, which may allow it to be placed in the same category as the seasonal flu.
“Due to the amended category under the infectious legislation, the rules for self-isolation of those infected and those who had contacts with them will be revised. State financial assistance is also subject to detailed reconsideration. A gradual transition to measures for the return to “regular” Japan and living “along with the coronavirus” will be considered. The wearing of masks and other measures aimed at preventing infection will be revised,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Currently, COVID-19 belongs to the second category of diseases listed in the law on infectious diseases, which entails placing patients in quarantine and introduces other restrictions. Today, the ministers have discussed possibilities and conditions for moving the disease to the fifth category, the one for the seasonal flu.
Under present regulations, residents of Japan are obliged to wear masks inside buildings and on public transport. School students are allowed to take off masks only during sport activities. If the distance between people outside is more than two meters (6.5 feet), they can also take off masks, however many Japanese people choose to wear them voluntarily, even when they are walking the dog or cycling. If COVID-19 is assigned to a new category, people will be no longer required to wear masks inside.