Japan Data

Japanese Government Relaxes Mask Recommendations Ahead of Summer Heatstroke Risk

Society Lifestyle Health

As summer looms, the Japanese government has eased its recommendations for wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in response to the increased risk of heatstroke.

Two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan continues to report tens of thousands of new infections each day. However, given the reduced number of serious cases and fatalities, combined with the risk of heatstroke in severe summer temperatures, on May 20, the government announced new guidance on the wearing of masks.

A top official stated that masks are no longer necessary during outdoor leisure activities like walking and running, or when commuting on foot or by bicycle. When conversing outdoors, people are not required to wear masks provided that there is sufficient distance between the speakers, with two meters given as a rule of thumb. Indoors too, the new recommendation applies in cases where there is almost no conversation, such as where people are reading in a library or attending an art exhibition.

Japanese Government Position on the Wearing of Masks


Can Maintain Sufficient Distance Cannot Maintain Sufficient Distance
During conversation Not required Recommended
No conversation Not required
Examples: Walking, running, or cycling for leisure
Not required
Examples: Walking or cycling while commuting and passing other people


Can Maintain Sufficient Distance Cannot Maintain Sufficient Distance
During conversation Recommended
If there is good ventilation, it may be fine to remove masks.
No conversation Not required
Example: Reading in a library, attending an art exhibition
Example: Rush-hour trains

School Students

The government stated that masks are not required for students from elementary to high school if sufficient distance can be maintained or if this is not possible, if there is almost no conversation. Specific examples given were outdoor nature observation and sketching, and indoor reading and research.

Officials also noted that masks are not needed in situations with a high risk of heatstroke, such as when commuting to and from school or taking physical education classes outdoors.

Preschool Children Aged 2 and Over

Previously masks were recommended for preschool children aged 2 and over, but now this recommendation has been removed, with caregivers and other adults encouraged to consider the child’s health when deciding what action to take.

(Originally published in Japanese. Banner image © Pixta.)

masks coronavirus COVID-19