Anti-virus measures to be eased in steps

NHK -- Feb 24

Japan's top government spokesperson says measures against the coronavirus will be eased in stages even if the government lifts an emergency declaration earlier than initially planned.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide will meet the minister in charge of the country's coronavirus response, Nishimura Yasutoshi, and health minister Tamura Norihisa. They are expected to discuss whether the emergency declaration can be lifted for three prefectures in western Japan and two others in the country's central region before it is due to expire on March 7.

Kato said an expert panel will also meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the situation in those prefectures. He said that based on the talks, the government will make a comprehensive decision on whether to lift the declaration.

Kato added that the prefectures will need to take a step-by-step approach to relaxing anti-virus measures until they are in stage two, even if the state of emergency ends early in those areas. He said requests for shorter business hours at bars and restaurants will remain in place for the time being.