Japan to end COVID-19 emergency measures at end of September

The Japanese government will end the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and 18 prefectures and a quasi-state of emergency for eight regions when they expire on Sept. 30, as the number of infections declined steadily, Xinhua reports. 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government would make a formal decision on Tuesday by taking into consideration the opinions of a panel of experts in infectious diseases and other fields.

If the decision takes place formally, it would be the first time since April 4 that none of Japan's 47 prefectures is under either a state of emergency or a quasi-state of emergency.

"The number of new COVID-19 patients has drastically decreased, so I understand the situation has been improving in that sense," Suga told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet.

However, he added, "We must continue to be highly cautious and need to ease restrictions gradually, including for dining."

Under the state of emergency, establishments serving alcohol or offering karaoke services are asked to suspend their business, and those not serving liquor are requested to close at 8:00 p.m. local time.

Due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, the fourth state of emergency was declared for Tokyo on July 12, covering the full period of Olympics and Paralympics and resulting in allowing few to no spectators at the games' venues.

The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant accelerated the surge in cases across the country. In August, the nationwide daily infections peaked at about 25,000, and many other areas entered the emergency measure.

However, daily infections have declined steadily in recent days. Tokyo, which confirmed a record 5,773 daily infections on Aug. 13, reported 154 new cases on Monday, while the nationwide daily tally was 1,147 cases.


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