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News Maskless tourists trigger new mask debate

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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According to Bloomberg, with the borders finally opening and tourists slowly returning, the debate on mask-wearing has started anew: some Japanese fret that maskless tourists will trigger another surge in infections. Others argue that Japan should use the opportunity to imitate the West’s abandoning of masks, with face-coverings alone failing to stem a record-breaking Covid wave this summer.

Despite never ordering mask wearing, encouraging their use in almost all social situations was a core part of this plan. The population was familiar with masks since long before Covid: It was considered polite to wear one when sick, while millions more wore them in hay-fever season. During the pandemic, masks have become such an integral part of society that they've been nicknamed "kao pantsu," or face underwear — such is the idea of being caught without one. [...] Implicit in the criticism is a feeling that Japan is lagging the rest of the world, clinging to outmoded methods others have already dropped. Authorities appear divided: Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, keen to get people out spending, has suggested reviewing mask guidelines, and is appearing in public more frequently without one. Those around him are reported to be more cautious, worrying that the elderly population will be struck by a double whammy of Covid and flu this winter.


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