Japan lifts COVID-19 emergency in 9 prefectures

NHK -- Jun 21
The coronavirus state of emergency was lifted on Sunday for Tokyo and eight other prefectures. It will remain in effect in Okinawa through July 11.

Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures will transition to focused restrictions from Monday.

Bars and restaurants will not be able to serve alcohol after 7 p.m.

The rules in Tokyo say customers can drink alone or in groups of two, but can stay no longer than 90 minutes.

Pub sales manager, Ono Katsuji, said, "It's tough to make a profit with restrictions still in place. I only hope the pandemic will end so we can return to normal as soon as possible."

Tokyo confirmed 376 new cases on Sunday. That's up 72 from a week earlier.

The seven-day average through Sunday is 388, up one percent from the week before.

The minister in charge of the coronavirus response says with an eye on the upcoming Tokyo Games, the government is ready to declare another state of emergency, if needed.

Nishimura said, "A rise in cases is highly likely as more people start moving around. We will not hesitate to declare another state of emergency, if necessary, to protect people's lives, while keeping an eye on the healthcare system."

Across the country, health authorities confirmed more than 1,300 new cases on Sunday. 20 people have died.

Workplace vaccinations will go into full-swing on Monday. An electronics store held a practice session to get ready.

Iwami Shinichiro of the Bic Camera said, "We want to give our employees peace of mind, so our customers can come and shop with peace of mind."

The company aims to vaccinate 1,200 people a day and cover all of its 17,000 employees and their families.

The minister in charge of the roll-out, Kono Taro, hopes elementary and junior high school students will be able to get their shots during their summer break.

He says there will be an announcement soon on vaccinating schoolchildren.

- NHK