Tokyo to ease more Covid-19 restrictions from Monday

Tokyo, May 29 (efe-epa).- Tokyo authorities announced on Friday that the city would enter the second phase of a plan to gradually ease restrictions to contain the coronavirus from next week, as the number of cases has been decreasing over time.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike made the announcement in a press conference, five days after the state of emergency – imposed on Apr. 7 – was lifted across Japan.

After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government lifted the emergency, local authorities have modified their guidelines to gradually return to normalcy.

In Tokyo, the phase 1 of the reopening from May 25 led to bars and restaurants being allowed to function until 10 PM, although cinema halls and theaters continued to be closed and business activities faced some restrictions.

Under phase 2 from Monday, private academies for extra-curricular activities will start functioning again and cinemas and theaters will also be able to open their doors, while businesses would be allowed to open without any restrictions.

Further steps under a third phase, the date for which is yet to be determined, will allow bars and restaurants to function till midnight and allow the reopening of the popular video game arcades.

However, places like karaoke bars and “hostess bars”, considered most prone to infections, will continue to be closed for an indefinite duration.

Koike urged continued cooperation from the citizens and said that everything depended on the will and behavior of people as long as no vaccines were available.

She said that one should get accustomed to a life with coronavirus, calling it an “inevitable reality.”

According to the latest official data, around 17,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Japan, with 874 deaths. Tokyo, a city of 14 million residents, has witnessed 5,194 cases and 299 deaths.

Despite the state of emergency being lifted earlier this week, authorities are concerned about a possible spike in cases and have been closely following two recent outbreaks, one in a Tokyo hospital and the second in the southwestern city of Kitakyushu, where 43 new cases were reported in the last six days.

The Tokyo outbreak began after an employee of the Central Hospital in Musashino, a western suburb, tested positive for the virus and it was found out that he had infected four other workers and five patients.

The governor said that the outbreak was a matter of concern but they were vigilant, and it amounted to less than 20 cases per day, the warning threshold.

This was the first time in many days that Koike appeared in her usual Friday press meet without wearing a face-mask. EFE-EPA


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