Japan to end COVID-19 state of emergency this month

TOKYO, Sept. 28 (BNA) – Japan will lift the coronavirus emergency in all regions on Thursday, as the number of new cases decreases and pressure on the medical system eases, Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

The plan, approved by a government advisory panel, would bring the whole of Japan out of the state of emergency for the first time in nearly six months. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a press conference at 7 p.m. (10:00 GMT) to announce the decision after the plan is formally drawn up by a government task force.

But Nishimura said some restrictions on restaurants and large-scale events will remain in place for about a month to prevent a resurgence of cases.

“New cases will undoubtedly rise after the state of emergency is lifted,” Nishimura, who is also overseeing Japan’s response to the coronavirus, said Tuesday as the advisory committee meeting began, according to Reuters.

“We need to continue the necessary measures to prevent a rebound,” he said, adding that if cases rise again, a more limited “semi-emergency” could be brought back.

Restaurants in areas under emergency restrictions are now being asked to close by 8pm and not serve alcoholic beverages.

Nishimura said the government will introduce an accreditation system where only approved restaurants can remain open until 9 p.m., although bans on alcohol will be lifted everywhere unless provincial governors object.

Like many other countries, Japan has struggled to contain the spread of a highly contagious delta species – including through the Summer Olympics – keeping much of the country under emergency restrictions.

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But new daily cases have fallen steadily over the past month, to 1,128 nationwide on Monday, according to the health minister, nearly halving from 2,129 on Sunday and dropping from a daily high of about 25,000 infections at the peak.

Nearly 60% of the population has been fully vaccinated and the government has said everyone who wants the shots will have it by November.

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