Japan to lift health emergency in most of the country from June 21

Tokyo, June 17 (EFE).- Japan on Thursday decided to lift the Covid-19 health emergency as per schedule from June 21 in most parts of the country, despite maintaining some restrictions in a few areas including Tokyo, a month ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Currently the 10 most populated Japanese prefectures – including Tokyo and Osaka – out of the total 47 are covered by the state of emergency, first declared on Apr. 25 amid a Covid surge.

From Monday, the state of emergency will remain in place only in the southwestern Okinawa prefecture, but some restrictions will be enforced in seven other regions at least until Jul. 11, especially with regard to commercial activity, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Suga said that the number of fresh infections had steadily declined across Japan from mid-May, while the number of seriously ill patients had also gone down.

He said some restrictions had been extended in areas where the drop in cases had stalled and there was a risk of another outbreak according to experts.

The prefectures where these measures will remain in place include Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Aichi, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Hokkaido.

In these regions, bars and restaurants would be ordered to close by 8 pm and alcoholic beverages – which had been banned during the emergency – would not be served beyond 7 pm.

The decision comes amid a declining trend in Covid infections and speeding up of the vaccination drive in the country.

However, fears of a fresh surge have persisted ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, set to kick off on Jul. 23, due to an increase in people’s movement and the spread of new, more contagious strains of the virus.

The government has announced that the number of spectators at sports facilities would be limited to 10,000, irrespective of the status of the pandemic, between July and August.

The Tokyo 2020 organizers are yet to decide whether or how many spectators would be allowed at the event, although they would have to comply with government restrictions while permitting access. EFE


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