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Japan businesses seek COVID exit strategy ahead of May downgrade

Stadiums, stores and hotels try to balance freedom and safety

A worker disinfects a table at a Tokyo restaurant. (Photo by Karina Noka)

TOKYO -- With Japan on track to wind down its crisis response to COVID-19, businesses across the country face the challenge of easing measures like mask recommendations for a public still worried about infection risk.

The government decided on Friday to downgrade COVID-19 to a Class 5 infectious disease, effective May 8, putting it in the same tier of severity as the seasonal flu. Details of the change will be announced in early March.

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