Railway Operators to Decide Own Mask-Wearing Policies Starting Monday

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Many people wear masks while commuting to work, even while they are outdoors, at Tokyo Station on the chilly morning of Feb. 16.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A liaison committee of railway operators plans to allow each member company to decide a policy from Monday on mask-wearing as a novel coronavirus countermeasure, informed sources told Jiji Press Tuesday.

The committee, composed of Japan Railways Group companies and other railway firms, is set to revise its COVID-19 guidelines as the government announced last month that beginning on Monday, people should make their own decisions on whether to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors, informed sources said.

Last December, the committee released the fourth edition of its COVID-19 guidelines, including measures to avoid closed, crowded and close-contact settings.

Based on the current edition, railway operators are calling on passengers to wear masks and refrain from talking much or loudly on trains.

The revised guidelines would no longer include a request for passengers to wear masks while continuing to call on railway firms to ensure proper ventilation inside and regular disinfection of trains, according to the sources.

Even after the easing of its mask protocols from Monday, the government plans to recommend the use of masks on crowded trains during rush hours.

The Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan said last month, after the government’s announcement, that it would let each passenger and crew member decide whether to wear a mask on flights.

The Nihon Bus Association last Wednesday released its updated COVID-19 guidelines from which a description calling for mask use on buses has been deleted.