With new coronavirus infections leveling off and the Golden Week holiday starting Friday, more health experts in Japan are suggesting that it’s OK for people to remove masks in certain outdoor settings, especially when social distancing is maintained.

Experts warn, however, that basic prevention measures — such as the ventilation of indoor spaces — will remain crucial as infection levels remain high in most of the country.

In the face of recent moves in other countries to withdraw mask mandates, top health experts serving on government committees have begun to suggest that Japan may loosen its guidance on the universal mask-wearing practice that was advocated when the pandemic began two years ago.