Health minister: Masks not needed outdoors, if you keep quiet

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People wearing masks pass by each other in the crossing in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo on Friday.

The government announced Friday evening it will now take the stance that wearing masks outdoors is unnecessary as long as one is not engaged in a conversation.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto announced the government’s revised position on mask-wearing as a coronavirus countermeasure as a part of everyday life.

“Even if you pass by other people outdoors, such as while walking to work, it is not necessary to wear a mask as long as there is little or no conversation.”

Goto added that “even indoors, it is not necessary to wear a mask when distance from others can be maintained and there is little or no conversation.”

The government will continue to recommend wearing masks in crowded commuter trains, he said.

Goto said the government has backtracked on its recommendation for mask-wearing by preschool children aged 2 and older, issued in the wake of the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant. It is “not uniformly required,” he said.

The change was decided in light of the increased risk of heatstroke as temperatures and humidity rise heading into summer.