As Japan prepares to downgrade COVID, focus on risk messaging

While the government announced on Friday that it change the legal category of COVID-19 on May 8, there is now heightened ambiguity about how society should approach the pandemic. When exactly should people put on or take off the masks? Can children be unmasked everywhere? Should stores and restaurants ditch hand sanitizers and plexiglass barriers?

The answer now, officials say, is “to use your own judgement.”

On Friday, a health ministry committee agreed the country should modify its COVID-19 response to value “individual choices,” including whether to wear masks indoors or outdoors. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida explained his decision later in the day after calling a Cabinet meeting and formally deciding to downgrade the disease to a level comparable to seasonal flu, with the change taking effect after the Golden Week holidays. .

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