You can now choose whether to wear a mask indoors and on public transport in Japan

Mask-wearing indoors is now optional as Japan seeks to downgrade Covid-19’s status to that of a seasonal flu

Lim Chee Wah
Written by
Lim Chee Wah
Editor-in-Chief, Time Out Tokyo
Tokyo Metro train during rush hour
Photo: Kasto80/DreamstimeAn undated stock photo of a Tokyo Metro train during rush hour

[Update, March 13] Today's the day. Starting March 13, individuals can decide for themselves whether to wear a mask indoors and on public transport. The government, however, still recommends that we keep the mask on when we're in hospitals and clinics, nursing homes and during rush hour when public transport is at its most crowded. According to Kyodo News, some businesses and venues may and can still ask patrons to wear a mask before entering. So even if you choose not to wear a mask, it might be handy to have one with you when you're out and about in Tokyo. 


Even at the height of the pandemic, mask wearing was never a legally required mandate here in Japan. Nevertheless, it has become a common practice in the country.

However, Japan has decided to reclassify Covid-19 as just a seasonal flu on May 8. In line with that, the government is also looking at relaxing the rules of mask-wearing. According to NHK, you can soon decide whether to wear a mask indoors, and this takes effect on March 13.

Kyodo News further states that it will also be up to the individual to decide whether to wear a mask while commuting on public transport.

With the ease of rules, the government plans to recommend mask-wearing only during rush hour and congestion time. The elderly and people who are prone to serious illnesses are still recommended to keep their masks on while frequenting crowded places.

Earlier this week, the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan also decided that masks will no longer be mandatory on board Japanese flights from May 8.

This article was originally published on February 10 and updated on March 13.

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