Japan to lift state of emergency in all regions at end of month

Japan plans to lift its Covid-19 state of emergency, which covers 19 prefectures, in all of the regions at the end of September, broadcaster NHK reported on Monday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he discussed easing measures with relevant ministers on Monday, and would seek the views of a government panel of advisers on Tuesday.

“We will make a final decision on the matter based on the advice and discussions we have with the government expert panel tomorrow,” he told reporters on Monday evening.

If approved, Japan would be free of such emergency restrictions for the first time in nearly six months.

Current measures require restaurants to close early and refrain from serving alcohol. People have been asked to avoid non-urgent outings and refrain from crossing prefectural borders.

Even when the state of emergency ends, authorities are considering keeping some curbs in place, fearing a spike in infections if the country opens up completely, according to local media.

Tokyo is considering limiting the opening hours of restaurants, for example, and only allowing alcohol to be served at pre-approved eateries, broadcaster NHK reported on Monday.

Japan saw a spike in cases over the summer as it struggled to contain the contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, reaching a record high of 25,000 new daily infections.

However, that number has dropped in recent weeks, and the country recorded just over 2,000 cases on Sunday. Over 57 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated.

(Reuters)

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