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When the new mask guidelines kick in, what should you expect?

34 Comments

On Monday, March 13, the government's COVID-19 task force's recommendations on easing mask-wearing guidelines will go into effect.

The recommended changes, however, are incremental at best and some people might not notice any changes at all, particularly for workers and visitors at medical institutions and elderly care facilities, rush hour commuters on trains and buses and on some other forms of public transportation.

The government's revised guidelines continue to state that mask-wearing is effective in protecting people at high risk of serious illness.

In an article titled "Can we say 'sayonara, masuku?'" Weekly Playboy (March 27) presented the results of its survey on post-March 13 mask wearing, based on responses from 400 male salaried workers. Many of the subjects are employed at airlines, department stores, hotels, schools and parcel delivery firms, among others.

To the first question, "Do you plan to remove your mask from March 13?" 11% percent of respondents said they have already removed their masks; 36% replied they would first consider the situation but have had many cases in which they remove their masks; 31% said they are willing to remove their masks but have few opportunities to do so; and 22% said they will continue wearing their masks. Broken down by age groups, only slight differences were observed in responses from men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, but nothing really stood out.

While out-of-doors, however, 78% said they will remove their masks in most cases, with 23.25% saying they will definitely do so and the remaining 54.75% removing their masks when the situation warrants it.

While on the job, a majority of respondents said they will remove masks while seated at their desks or during meetings, but 52.75% said they will continue to wear masks when calling on corporate clients. Similar majorities who expect to continue mask wearing were voiced while commuting (63%), on planes (59%) and in taxis (54.75%). The percentages fall, however, when shopping at mega-marts (47.5%), at hotel buffets (33%) and when at the self-serve drink bars at family restaurants (34%).

The survey also considered mask wearing vis-a-vis encounters with the opposite sex. In response to the question "When meeting a female for the first time, will you remove your mask?" 14.28% of respondents said they would, and 50.74% said they would first consider the situation but would be willing to remove them. Prospects of starting off the relationship on the right foot notwithstanding, the remaining 34.98% were dead set against it.

"When meeting up, if a guy's not wearing a mask, a woman might be turned off on the spot, and it might be difficult for him to recover from that point," was how Saki Ito, head of "Matching Up" media, explained it to Weekly Playboy. "Things will go better if he plays it by ear up to the time they start a meal. He can remove the mask when he senses the timing is right to break the ice."

Meanwhile, Flash (March 21) approached 70 companies and organizations about their mask policies. Of 56 respondents, only eight gave detailed replies. The Tokyo Metro, for instance, said it will broadcast announcements on their trains. Ueno Zoo requests visitors' cooperation to continue wearing masks, particularly at crowded periods.

Fifteen firms, including JAL, 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Lawson, McDonalds, MOS Burger, Gusto, Sushiro and the APA Hotel Group said they would leave the decision to wear or not up to individual customers. Twenty-three companies and organizations, including the JR railway group members and most major private railways in the Tokyo area, said they would "wait for the new guidelines and comply accordingly."

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34 Comments
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My employers have told us we they will go along with the recommended guidelines - basically, we can decide for ourselves whether or not we wear a mask.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Mask wearing in Japan was always only voluntary with certain businesses demanding staff and or customers wear them. Which is legally a violation of even Japan's lax human rights. So the change is only a talking point. Wear one or don't as you like as has been the case.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

I do not expect a change. The population here is now so conditioned to wear masks outside (where it makes zero sense) and take them off when going to bars (where one can theoretically argue they make sense) that nothing will change. The maskery has become some sort of strange dresscode.

9 ( +25 / -16 )

Meanwhile, literally everywhere else in the world (okay except China)…

Nobody has been wearing masks for over a year, including none of the Japanese traveling abroad. Who is this pantomime for?

8 ( +15 / -7 )

So reading from the Cochrane report, this was pretty telling:

Medical/Surgical mask vs. no mask

"We included 12 trials (10 cluster‐RCTs) comparing medical/surgical masks versus no masks to prevent the spread of viral respiratory illness (two trials with healthcare workers and 10 in the community). Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza‐like illness (ILI)/COVID‐19 like illness compared to not wearing masks (risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.09; 9 trials, 276,917 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence. Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory‐confirmed influenza/SARS‐CoV‐2 compared to not wearing masks (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.42; 6 trials, 13,919 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence). Harms were rarely measured and poorly reported (very low‐certainty evidence).

"Ten studies took place in the community, and two studies in healthcare workers. Compared with wearing no mask in the community studies only, wearing a mask may make little to no difference in how many people caught a flu‐like illness/COVID‐like illness (9 studies; 276,917 people); and probably makes little or no difference in how many people have flu/COVID confirmed by a laboratory test (6 studies; 13,919 people). Unwanted effects were rarely reported; discomfort was mentioned."

"There is uncertainty about the effects of face masks. The low to moderate certainty of evidence means our confidence in the effect estimate is limited, and that the true effect may be different from the observed estimate of the effect. The pooled results of RCTs did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection."

Basically, the report can't tell if they work or not. The limited evidence points to being of little to no effect. But that's all. Very interesting.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Just waiting for my local chain sports club (Renaissance) to drop the mask requirement and rubbish the hideous magic plastic shielding between all the stations. Then, life will be normal again. Otherwise, no magic masking for me.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

At our 朝会 this morning, the vice-principal asked that we wear masks through the end of March. He's being promoted to principal on April 1, so I wonder if he'll keep his word. Can't wait to take the worthless face mask off. Not that I wear it very much anyway. Even at work, I don't have to wear a mask, opting for an even more worthless mouth shield. Maybe I'll finally get to see what some of my students look like. I have some students I've taught for three years whose faces I've never seen. Something is definitely wrong with that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hadn't even thought of this potential dilemma.

At the same time, I wonder what the WHO thinks?

WHO stands by recommendation to not wear masks if you are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/world/coronavirus-who-masks-recommendation-trnd/index.html

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@You,

The meaning of calling on corporate clients is to visit their office and meet them face to face. It's not a video call.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

YouMar. 10 12:20 pm JST

 52.75% said they will continue to wear masks when calling on corporate clients.

wearing masks when making video calls ? Really ? That tells you everything you need to know about why people wearing masks in this country. They just wear it to show others "manner", that is etiquette only, nobody believes (and righfully so) they are useful.

Calling on does not mean making video calls.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Expect that almost everyone will keep using them for quite a while.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This! Renaissance Sports Club goes MASKS OPTIONAL from next Tuesday. It's the end of the Covid Era! Let's pray they remove the magic plastic walls, too!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Can't really see yet how this will be as the hay fever season is still peaking

I personally haven't worn a mask for a very long time now unless those times that i was politely asked to do so but I've been wearing one for the past week because i am suffering from hay fever

1 ( +2 / -1 )

At our 朝会 this morning, the vice-principal asked that we wear masks through the end of March. He's being promoted to principal on April 1, so I wonder if he'll keep his word. Can't wait to take the worthless face mask off. Not that I wear it very much anyway. Even at work, I don't have to wear a mask, opting for an even more worthless mouth shield. Maybe I'll finally get to see what some of my students look like. I have some students I've taught for three years whose faces I've never seen. Something is definitely wrong with that.

Same here. My sentiments exactly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese people have always worn masks, it is nothing new. I do not see a lot of people removing them tomorrow because we are presently at the peak of the hay fever season here in Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

expectation is pre-covid and only wear a mask if you cough the cold and have to show up to work like pre-covid time and stay home and recover if you get the flu and or the covid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I almost never wear a mask even during the height of the pandemic, so these new rules don’t really apply to me.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

If it's a misrepresentation, the CNN should have corrected the story by now.

What story have the CNN where it pretends this is the position of the WHO in 2023 as you routinely do?

Bingo. Why would CNN correct accurate reporting? The WHO reported on what they knew at the time, and CNN reported on the report from the WHO. It was all accurate.

You are now claiming something different than what was claimed in the article, and what was claimed by the WHO, so the misrepresentation is coming from you.

Are you going to correct your story now?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

To abide by the new bicycle "make an effort to wear a helmet" law I'll be moving the mask to the top of my head on April 1.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Nothing. Didn't Kishida say that masks were unnecessary outside last summer? From all the pictures, people still wear them everywhere so this new mask guideline is just all talk and no action. It's going to take something drastic like the Japanese government fining people for wearing masks to get the general populace to take them off.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

 52.75% said they will continue to wear masks when calling on corporate clients.

wearing masks when making video calls ? Really ? That tells you everything you need to know about why people wearing masks in this country. They just wear it to show others "manner", that is etiquette only, nobody believes (and righfully so) they are useful.

-2 ( +16 / -18 )

Why is it ADVISABLE to continue wearing masks when inside or unable to social distance you ask?

Please read current research on Covid-19, excess death and disease, I'd recommend highly regarded Lancet, UK medical journal.

It'll blow your mind, no matter your age group or any other category, chance of death for those with prior infection increases 5X vs. peer group not infected for following 3 years. Obviously maybe longer only we need time more to pass to establish scientifically.

Scary stuff, not to mention other serious disease!

Let's stay masked up, it's in YOUR health interests to do so!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

While Japan's famed (superficial) politeness does have benefits such as low crime and clean streets, when taken too far and combined with an education system and culture that doesn't encourage critical thinking, this is what you get: A situation where most people are terrified of breaking the groupthink that they, with rare exception, accepted without challenge.

Even if the amount of information showing that masks have very marginal if any effect in stopping the virus from spreading were as widely available in Japanese as it is in English, few people would be willing to make the first move among their social group to cast off their masks for fear of being shut out. As Elton sang, it's a sad, sad situation and it's getting even more absurd when irrational feelings trump facts and as the virus wanes anyway. But people feel like have to wait for the government to tell them what to do. Given the behaviour of governments over the last three years in particular (but since time immemorial in general), whatever they say should be taken with the greatest of skepticism; rather, do what you think is right based on reason and evidence and not simply feelings. Feelings have their place, but they shouldn't always take precedence.

So I don't expect much difference until at least May 8 (why that date in particular?). But why wait so long? Are they trying to push out the anxiety until they can whittle down their stockpile of jabs before they expire? This will drag on until the government specifically and in no uncertain terms says it's OK not to where a mask indoors and outdoors, instead of the wishy-washy language they're using now. That is, not for a long time.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

t the same time, I wonder what the WHO thinks?

WHO stands by recommendation to not wear masks if you are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick

Still misrepresenting the position of the WHO from a link of 2020, where every other international health care and the Japanese authorities shared the same recommendations? This is the reason why your copy-pasted comments about it are repeatedly deleted.

This is very difficult for people with antiscientific bias to understand, but scientific institutions base their recommendations and policies in actual scientific evidence, and before the pandemic there was no actual evidence for efficacy of mask use in the general asymptomatic population.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Confusion. Confrontations. People hassling others to wear masks.

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

I agree it is a custom for Japanese now to wear masks and true it doesn't make sense wearing it outside especially when walking on the streets with no one around you.

But repeating that masks are useless and there is no prove they do any good is incorrect.

In the beginning of the pandemic Japanese TV showed many real world experiments showing how masks stop spreading the particles. Japanese are particularly good in making such experiments and everyone could visually see (with super speed cameras and special lighting) how the fumes spread with and without mask.

I think this played role in Japanese public trusting the effect of the mask.

And again - it helps to stop the spreading rather preventing the wearer to inhale the virus.

10 days ago I came back to Japan in a plane full of Japanese 80% of which didn't wear masks (because air company didn't require). I was lax too and guess what - I got the virus! I blame it on those Japanese that were probably infected and didn't wear masks, period!

-18 ( +3 / -21 )

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