Japan lifts Covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo area

Tokyo, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- Japan on Monday lifted the state of emergency imposed to check the spread of Covid-19 in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama, although the government has asked restaurants and bars to continue to close early.

Restaurants and bars in Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures will close by 9 pm, one hour later than when the state of emergency was in place, as a preventive measure among a rising number of cases of new virus strains.

However, since requests for business closures or early hours are not legally binding outside the state of emergency, those who do not comply will not be subject to any kind of fine.

Among other measures that Japan has taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 is capping attendance in sports stadiums and large-scale events such as concerts.

Capacity, which had been limited to 5,000 people, will be gradually increased to 10,000.

The central government, which announced the lifting of the alert four days ago, wants to avoid a new state of emergency during the vaccination program, which began on Feb. 17 and while it strengthens the country’s health system and expands testing to detect new, more contagious coronavirus variants.

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said on a TV show broadcast on Sunday that Japan is considering requiring all travelers entering the country to be tested for these strains.

They would also be required to undergo additional testing three days after arriving in Japan.

The strict border controls imposed by the archipelago, which does not allow the entry of any person who is not a national or resident of the country, with some exceptions, currently requires only those arriving from 24 countries where variants of the coronavirus have been confirmed to undergo this additional test.

According to Tamura, the country is now considering making testing for variant strains mandatory for all those entering the country, although no official announcement has yet been made in this regard. EFE-EPA


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