Japan eases COVID-19 state of emergency ahead of Olympics
Japan will ease the COVID-19 state of emergency in nine regions ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday that the authorities are maintaining “quasi-emergency” measures in seven of the regions, including Tokyo, until July 11, Reuters reported.
Under the scaled-back protocols, bars and restaurants would be allowed to serve alcohol until 7 p.m., as opposed to alcohol sales being completely off-limits. However, restaurants will still be asked to close by 8 p.m.
The state of emergency had been in place since April but had been extended twice, the most recent being set to stay in place until Sunday. Suga was expected to not reinstate the state of emergency after its expiration.
But some are worried that holding the Olympics will lead to a new spike in coronavirus infections.
The change comes as Japan gears up to host the Olympics on July 23.
Foreign spectators are not allowed to attend the games in person. But Reuters noted that the government is considering allowing a limited number of domestic fans into stadiums, citing state media.
Daily cases have significantly fallen in Japan, according to The Associated Press.
In Osaka, which was hard-hit by the pandemic, new cases have dropped from 1,200 a day in late April to 108 on Wednesday. In Tokyo, cases have dropped from above 1,100 in mid-May to around 500 per day.
However, only 6 percent of the country’s population were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the AP.