Photo/Illutration Some of the food delivered by the Tokyo metropolitan government to a household with a COVID-19 patient recuperating at home on July 21 (Yusuke Nagano)

From mid-September, the Japanese government is planning to allow asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to go out to buy daily necessities if they take precautions such as wearing a mask.

The change is being considered as part of new policies the government plans to present soon to achieve “With Corona,” a plan that aims to prevent the spread of infections while maintaining socioeconomic activities.

People without symptoms will be allowed to go to convenience stores and supermarkets near their homes to buy food, toilet paper and other daily necessities if they wear a mask, keep their outings short and take other measures, according to government sources.

It aims to concentrate the local government’s supplies and personnel to caring for patients at high risk of becoming seriously ill, such as older people.

Local governments have been sending food to patients’ homes, but the surge in new cases has been causing delays.

Asymptomatic patients will continue to be asked to isolate at home, sources said.

Regarding shortening the isolation period, the government is considering lowering it from 10 to seven days for symptomatic patients, and from seven to five days for asymptomatic patients.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Aug. 24 that he will present an overall picture soon of how the government will tackle the pandemic from now--such as reviewing the practice of tracking every COVID-19 case and shortening the isolation period--to transition toward the With Corona objectives.

He said the decision on whether to narrow the scope of reporting COVID-19 cases only in elderly patients and people with pre-existing conditions to reduce the burden on medical workers will be left up to prefectural governments.

However, we are considering unifying reporting rules across the country,” he said on Aug. 27.

(This article was written by Yuki Edamatsu and Mirei Jinguji.)