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Tokyo taxi drivers allowed to refuse passengers not wearing masks

People wear masks as they commute during the morning rush hour Friday in Tokyo. Photo: AP/Kiichiro Sato. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Nov 4, 2020, Kyodo. Japan’s transport ministry on Wednesday allowed taxi drivers in Tokyo to refuse passengers who are not wearing face masks, amid persistent concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus, The Mainichi reported.

The approval of the provision, requested by 10 taxi companies in the capital, could also affect norms of etiquette in other areas of Japan.

Japan’s road transportation law stipulates that taxi operators cannot deny passengers unless they are heavily intoxicated or violent to drivers, among other special circumstances.

Taxi operators set rules based on the law that have to be authorized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The Tokyo taxi companies had asked the ministry to allow them to change part of the rules as behavior such as drunk passengers speaking loudly without wearing masks would increase the risk of coronavirus infection for taxi drivers.

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