Don’t want to wear a mask? Then you better feel like walking.

Though the English term “social distance” has become part of Japan’s vernacular during the pandemic, the other keyword for coronavirus countermeasures has been jishuku, or “personal restraint.” The country has had relatively few government-ordered closures or curfews, instead calling on businesses, event organizers, and individual citizens themselves to avoid unnecessary high-density gatherings and follow advice from health experts in order to limit the spread of infections.

While many have complied, taxi drivers have been encountering would-be passengers who aren’t so committed to jishuku, hopping into their cabs without a mask. Perhaps these maskless passengers don’t see a taxi as being the same as other forms of public transportation because they’re not sharing the car with strangers-to-them riders, and figure that as long as the driver is wearing a mask they don’t need one themselves.

▼ “So, how ’bout that pandemic, huh?”

Whatever the reason, though, it’s something cab drivers aren’t happy about, and so a group of 10 Tokyo taxi operating companies recently petitioned the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for the right to refuse to pick up passengers who won’t wear a mask. The ministry  has now approved the request, officially authorizing recognizing Tokyo taxis to leave the maskless waiting on the curb as they drive away. “This will help ensure the safety of not only the driver, but also other passengers who use the cab after the first fare has been dropped off.”

The ministry does at least want drivers to double-check if maskless would-be passengers have some sort of health issue that prevents them from being able to wear a face covering. But if there’s no reasonable justification for them not wearing a mask, the driver is under no obligation to let them into the cab.

While the petition was filed specifically in relation to taxis in Tokyo, it’s likely that the ministry’s decision will allow taxi operators nationwide to install the same policy if they so choose.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Kyodo via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
Insert image: Pakutaso 
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s still thankful to the Nagano taxi driver who agreed to a convenience store snack stop for no extra charge on the meter.