Japan to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and Osaka on June 21

Japan Times -- Jun 12
Japan is considering implementing less strict coronavirus restrictions in areas including Tokyo and Osaka on June 21 when the state of emergency is lifted, a government official said Friday, as the country seeks to contain the health crisis with less than 50 days to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

While the state of emergency for most of the 10 prefectures covered will be lifted on the scheduled end date of June 20, Tokyo and Osaka are likely to remain under a quasi-emergency with less strict measures, the official said.

Through the transition to the quasi-emergency in the capital and other areas, the government aims to prevent a resurgence of the novel coronavirus ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to start on July 23.

In areas that shift to the quasi-emergency, the government plans to continue requiring bars and restaurants to shorten their opening hours but is considering the option of lifting a ban on sales of alcoholic beverages, the official said.

A state of emergency authorizes requests and orders for the closure of certain facilities, while a quasi-emergency only allows for shortening opening hours.

While some in the government have called for a total lifting of the state of emergency, others remain cautious, particularly as the medical systems in Okinawa and Hokkaido remain strained by COVID-19 patients.

A formal decision will be made at a government meeting to be held as early as Thursday, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga meets relevant ministers and a subcommittee of experts to discuss restrictions on major events to be held in July and August.

The new restrictions are expected to be applied to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

- Japan Times