Japan to lift state of emergency in Tokyo, surrounding areas on Sunday

Tokyo, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Japan Thursday said it would lift from the weekend the state of emergency imposed to arrest the coronavirus spread in Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the decision at a meeting with the government-appointed task force held after obtaining the approval of the panel of expert advisors.

However, Suga said general coronavirus measures would remain in place amid concerns of a possible resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

The state of emergency, imposed since Jan.7 in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama, will be lifted on Mar.21 as scheduled.

The government had extended the measure twice for the Tokyo area.

The state of emergency does not mean a total lockdown, but the government has restricted people from unnecessary outings while restaurants and bars are closed early.

Businesses are encouraged to adopt remote working while the government has also capped attendance of events.

Suga said that despite the lifting of the emergency, restrictions for bars and restaurants would remain.

The government would also strengthen monitoring of new strains, conduct strategic testing and promote safe and quick vaccination, among other measures, he added.

The number of daily infections has fallen since the second week of January when the state of emergency was declared.

But the decline has slowed or even reversed in prefectures such as Tokyo, the worst affected by the virus.

A total of 409 infections were reported in the Japanese capital on Wednesday, the highest figure since mid-February.

Japan has recorded more than 452,000 coronavirus infections and 8,739 deaths to date. EFE-EPA


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