• Kyodo

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Japan’s powerful business lobby Keidanren said Tuesday it is lifting the ban it introduced on the use of hand dryers in restrooms at offices and production sites, after concluding the risk of it spreading the coronavirus is negligible.

The update to the guidelines for its more than 1,400 member companies came after Keidanren, also known as the Japan Business Federation, took into account expert opinions and the results of experiments. But Keidanren is calling for hand dryers to be disinfected with alcohol and kept clean.

Based on multiple experiments and simulations, Keidanren found the risk of infection from water drops and microdroplets in the air after handwashing is “extremely low” even when hand dryers are used.

The change applies to offices and factories but could also spread to other industries such as the restaurant sector that use Keidanren’s guidelines as a reference.

Keidanren decided to restrict the use of hand dryers in May last year based on discussions by a government panel of medical experts. In December, the organization sought to ease the rules on hand dryers because they are still being used in many countries amid the pandemic, but failed to get the go-ahead from experts.

“We have confirmed that hand dryers do not spread infections,” a Keidanren official said. “We need to take steps based on evidence, rather than accepting certain views without question.”

The World Health Organization is advising people to wash their hands with soap and water and dry them with paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Last month, Japan lifted the second state of emergency declared in January for urban areas hit by surging coronavirus cases. However, cities such as Osaka and Tokyo have been placed under a quasi-state of emergency to rein in infections.

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