The novel coronavirus has completely changed the daily lives for many across the world.

It began spreading in Japan around February 2020, and as of April 2021, more than a year later, there is still no prospect of an end to the disease.

With increased infections over the last few weeks, Japan’s virus expert " acknowledges a fourth wave " and Tokyo, Osaka, and Hyogo are " set for a third state of emergency" to be declared later this week.

In order to coexist with the novel coronavirus, people have adapted to living a “new normal” life (ニュー・ノーマル), with an emphasis on preventative measures such as wearing masks in public, checking body temperature and frequent disinfection upon entering businesses, as well as refraining from nonessential outings.

National No-Mask Picnic Day

On April 19, 2021, a volunteer project called “Nationwide No-Mask Picnic Day,” (全国同時ノーマスクピクニックディー) started trending on Twitter.

The plan is for participants to gather on May 1-2 in parks across Japan from Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Ibaraki, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Hiroshima, Kagawa, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Okinawa, and others to have mask-less picnics.

The website says, "Why don’t like-minded people connect with each other, breathe in fresh air, laugh and show their true faces for a bit of fun?"

The plan spread across Twitter, with many voicing criticisms, saying that it was dangerous and should be stopped, and could cause trouble for medical institutions.

Organizer Announces Cancellation in Response to Criticism

On April 20, just a day after the project was announced, the organizers updated their website to announce the event’s cancellation.

The reason was stated as follows.

Due to the unexpected spread of this event and the media reports, we have seen a lot of personal slander and defamation, and after considering the safety of the participants, we have decided to cancel the entire event.

For the sake of children who are affected physically and mentally by not being able to see each other's facial expressions, for children who have become addicted to masks, and for babies who are currently developing face recognition, we want to let them live in a world without masks.

These are the thoughts of the planners and supporters.

We believe that accepting excessive countermeasures against infectious diseases without questioning the corona scare will have a great negative impact on the growth of children, which is why we decided to launch this event.

For the sake of children's smiles and Japan's future, we will continue to take steps with conviction.

We hope that everyone’s lives will soon be able to return to normal, so they can live freely, happily, and with a smile on their faces.

When it was announced that the project would be canceled, "total cancellation" (#全面中止) started trending on Twitter.

Many people had various opinions about how the project was canceled.

  • Of course I want to return to normal life. But I can't help but wonder if it's really the right time to do this for the children's sake.
  • I don't want to burden medical staff because the infection is still spreading and medical institutions are having a hard time.
  • I hope they will listen to opposing opinions instead of just saying "because of the slander"...

Final Thoughts

There is nothing wrong with having a picnic with your family after taking proper precautions. However, if an unspecified number of people from different living areas gather together without masks, the risk of infection undoubtedly increases.

And with the government poised to issue a state of emergency in several prefectures, they will call on businesses and citizens to continue to restrain themselves from precisely this kind of behavior.

Of course many of us would love to go out and gather with friends and meet new people, with or without masks, but perhaps it’s just not time yet.

But we can all certainly work hard to bring about the day when we can return to a life full of mask-less faces around us.

By - Mujo.