Officials are worried situation could get even worse as Japan approaches its busiest socializing season.

With Thanksgiving next week, many people in the U.S. are facing a dilemma over how, if at all, to celebrate the annual gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. While Japan may not have to answer that sort of question this month, it too is going to have to find similar answers very soon.

December and January are the busiest times on the Japanese social calendar. In addition to Christmas parties, which are popular with teens and young adults, December is marked with bonenkai, literally “forget the year parties,” with many people attending multiple parties on different days with different groups of friends and coworkers. That’s often followed by trips back to hometowns to spend New Year’s with relatives, and in January it’s time for shinnenkai, parties to celebrate the start of the new year, often with the same groups of people you had bonenkai with.

All of that moving about, often on pubic transportation, then spending extended periods of time talking and eating with others in enclosed spaces, presents a high-risk scenario for spreading the coronavirus. With Tokyo’s infection numbers seeing a sudden surge over the past few days, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held a special press conference on Thursday, introducing a public awareness protocol called “The Five Smalls” (Itsutsu no Ko in Japanese), urging citizens to follow them as Japan heads into its traditional socializing season.

The Five Smalls are:
1. Small number of people: Keep the number of people at your meals as small as possible.
2. Small amount of time: If possible, keep the meal to one hour or less.
3. Small voices: Enjoy conversations while speaking quietly
4. Small plates: Divide food so that every person is eating from their own individual plates, not taking from a communal dish.
5. Be attentive to even the smallest of factors: Use disinfectants, make sure the room is well-ventilated, and be diligent about wearing masks.

▼ Pull that thing up, buddy.

Along with calling for people to follow the guidelines, Koike also said that Tokyo is raising its infection caution level to “highest caution,” though as of yet no additional restrictions on business activities or gatherings have been put in place.

Source: Livedoor News/Abema Times via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso 
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