Japanese airlines will stop requiring passengers and airline staff to wear face masks during flights, starting March 13. This move comes after the government’s recent decision to lower Covid-19’s status under the Infectious Disease Control Law.
The Airline Association of Japan, which includes All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines among its 19 members, stated that the choice to wear masks on board of airplanes and at airports would be left up to individuals.
The Japanese government had previously required the wearing of masks, particularly in enclosed spaces like airplanes. However, as of March 13, the mandate for wearing masks on public transport and in schools will shift to a recommendation, particularly during periods of congestion and overcrowding.
We will continue our efforts to ensure that our customers can use our aircraft with peace of mind.Shinichi Inoue, president of All Nippon Airways
Japan’s Scheduled Airlines Association currently requires all passengers except infants to wear masks and limit conversation as much as possible while on board. On Japan Airlines’ website, it is stated that passengers should “refrain from unncecessary conversation” and are required to wear masks at all times during airport check-in, security screenings, and in airport lounges, as well as on board all aircraft.
According to Kyodo News, the government will downgrade the legal classification of COVID-19 to the same level as common infectious illnesses like the seasonal flu on 8 May.
Although there were multiple instances of conflicts over mask mandates on flights worldwide since 2020, it could be said that Japan experienced relatively fewer issues with enforcing such requirements and urging individuals to wear face masks in public places and on board airplanes. This is partly because wearing masks in public had already become a societal norm in the country.
As of now, Japan is one of the few significant jurisdictions yet to eliminate mandatory mask requirements on aircraft. In the beginning of 2022, the United States removed the federal mask mandate for passengers on board flights. India lifted the requirement in November 2022.