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The Japanese government Thursday decided to lift Tokyo’s COVID-19 emergency measures just a month before the start of the Tokyo SUmmer Olympics, while establushing new restrictions that would limit the amount of fans at the sporting events.
The state of emergency in Tokyo began in late April, largely limiting bar and restaurant opening hours and prohibiting them from selling alcoholic beverages.
The Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that measure will now end in the capital and eight other regions on June 20, while staying in place in Okinawa.
“The number of infections nationwide has been declining since mid-May and the situation in terms of hospital beds is steadily improving,” he said. “On the other hand, in some regions there are signs that the fall in the number of infections is slowing,” Suga added.
The government will, instead of the state of emergency, implement a so-called “quasi-emergency,” establishing measures for Tokyo and six other areas until July 11.
The measures plan to slightly relax the rules on alcohol, allowing sales until 7pm, though restaurants and bars will still have close by 8pm.
#Japan's Economy Minister says that a panel of government-appointed experts had approved a plan to downgrade the state of emergency in seven prefectures including Tokyo, which will host the #Olympics from July 23https://t.co/mEMOavR4ji
Importantly, with just five weeks left until the pandemic-postponed games begin, Tokyo will probably keep strict limits on the number of spectators allowed at the large sporting events.
Although current state of emergency rules allow for 5,000 people, or 50 percent of venue capacity, whichever is smaller, on Wednesday, the government approved a limit of 10,000 spectators for areas not facing any restrictions.
Those rules will be the ones to guide Olympic organizers upon deciding in the upcoming days how many domestic fans, if any, will be allowed to attend the in-person events.