The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced Monday that officials have loosened the coronavirus restrictions in the last five of the country’s 47 prefectures: Tokyo and its surrounding regions, as well as the northern island of Hokkaido.
After lifting the restrictions in most areas earlier this month, he said on Monday that new infections had slowed enough to justify an easing of restrictions on businesses, bars and restaurants throughout the country, adding that hospitals were treating far fewer patients than at the height of the outbreak.
But he urged people to remain vigilant and adopt a “new lifestyle” based around avoidance of the “three Cs”
-Close human contact
in order to prevent a second wave of infections.
“Even after the lifting of the state of emergency, we are going to have to live with the coronavirus around us,” he said at a televised press conference. “If we lower our guard, the infection will spread rapidly. This is the most scary aspect of this virus. So we need to remain vigilant while at the same time reviving the economy.”
Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, last week said the capital was in the “final stretch” of its battle with the virus, adding that by exercising caution people would, over time, be able to “reclaim the lives we had before”.
Concern that a sharp rise in cases in April could place unbearable strain on medical services have eased, with about a fifth of hospital beds secured for Covid-19 patients currently in use, according to the health minister, Katsunobu Katō.
In the first phase, schools, gyms, libraries and museums will reopen, while restaurants will be asked to close at 10pm rather than the current 8pm. The professional baseball season will start on 19 June, but without spectators. Subsequent stages would allow theatres, cinemas and theme parks to reopen.
Government experts will assess the situation every three weeks, with a gradual easing of requests to stay at home and avoid large crowds. People will be urged not to travel between prefectures until the middle of next month and to continue to wear masks and observe physical distancing.
source: NHK world