Among the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, Japanese government is making best efforts to control the spread of infection while minimizing the damage to economic. Declaration of state of emergency, distributing cloth masks to households, distributing one-off 100,000 yen per person, etc, policies change day by day. For foreigners living and working in Japan, it may be difficult to get the latest information out of language problem, which may make them worried about their livings in Japan. But don't worry, Japan is this magic country who supports foreigners same as Japanese nationals, and the above policies are all applicable to foreigners.
The official website of Ministry of Health, Labor, Welfare updates latest information about COVID-19 every day in both Japanese and English, or in plain Japanese. This paper is going to summarize guidance for foreigners working in companies, some helpful administrative offices if in trouble, and some Q&A considering declaration of state of emergency and distribution of cloth masks.
Out of decrease in business caused by COVID-19, labor contract termination and cut off is seen to occur widely. In these cases, foreigner workers are not allowed to be treated less favorably than Japaanese workers, and they have the same following rights as their Japanese counterparts.
・Company must pay a leave allowance to Japanese as well as foreign workers when they are forced to take days off from work by the company.
・When workers take days off from work because their children's schools are closed, they can use paid vacation days just like Japanese workers.
・The subsidy the national government pays companies to protect worker employment can be used for Japanese as well as foreign workers.
・Companies cannot freely fire workers at will. When a company wants to fire a foreign worker, the same rules as Japanese workers must be followed.
If foreigners have any trouble with employment, the following offices may be helpful.
A place consulting about when worried about company or work, but do not know where to consult.
A place consulting about how to receive leave allowance, how to use paid vacation days, rules for being fired, other things related to working conditions such as wages and working hours.
A place consulting about how to find and be introduced to jobs, how to get employment insurance benefits when quitting job or being fired.
It should be noted that the above offices may be temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially during the consecutive holidays Golden Week from April 14 to May 6, 2020. Take a phone call or check websites before visiting.
A state of emergency can be declared during a natural disaster, civil unrest, armed conflict, medical pandemic or epidemic or other biosecurity risk, to empower the government to perform actions or impose policies which are normally not be permitted to undertake.
According to the pandemic of COVID-19, Japanese government declared a state of emergency on April 7 until May 6 for 7 prefectures where coronavirus expanded fast, including Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, Fukuoka, Hyougo, while the areas under declaration of state of emergency were expanded to all 47 prefectures on April 16. Such declarations empower the government to implement emergency plans such as requesting pachicho stores to stop business, and requesting citizens to change their normal behavior.
In order not to catch and spread virus, nationals are expected to reduce person-to-person contact by 80 percent by staying home as much as they can, in the following cases that they have to go out, prevention measures should be taken and "Three Cs" environment should be avoided.
・Have a need to go to hospital
・Have a need to buy necessities like food products, medicines, etc. As supermarkets and drugstores will open as normal, there is no need to stock things.
・Have a need to go to work (Telework is recommended if possible)
・Have a need to go out for exercise or go out for a walk
Prevention measures include wearing masks, washing hands, cough etiquette, etc. "Three Cs" environment means the following environment:
・Closed spaces with insufficient ventilation
・Crowded conditions with people
・Conversations in short distance
Places with "Three Cs" overlap have a particularly high risk of virus infection and occurrence of clusters which should be extremely avoided. Actually nationals are highly expected to avoid going out for travel during Golden week in order not to be infected and spread virus.
As you may have noticed that non-woven masks have disappeared from shelves of supermarkets and drugstores for months, but as a basic prevention measure, masks are necessary to ordinary people, especially for the elderly and pregnant women, etc. In replace, cloth masks are expected to reduce the consumption and ease a nationwide shortage of masks by washing and reusing, so Japanese government has announced the measure to distribute two cloth masks per household on April 1.
Cloth masks may be thought no effect on preventing virus infection, but they are effective at preventing cough, sneeze droplets through which coronavirus spreads. Moreover, they prevent people from touching their noses or mouths and prevent viral infections by touching.
Government has already distributed cloth masks to nursing homes who need to care for the elderly or the disabled until April 10. Japanese schools including primary, middle, high schools, etc. , are distributing cloth masks to students from April 15. Other countermeasures are also under consideration to support households if these extra maks aren't sufficient.
Cloth masks will be distributed by Japan Post across the country through postal services, aiming at minimizing risk of infection by reducing face-to-face contact. The delivery began on April 12, from prefectures with more infection cases to prefectures with less cases. The government is considering publishing estimated delivery date notices on a prefecture-by-prefecture basis.
Cloth masks are recommended to wash everyday and dry indoors.