Japan will lift all coronavirus emergency precautions when they expire this week, as the infection slows and the country tries to reactivate the economy.
Experts endorsed officials in charge of coronavirus mitigation measures at Tuesday’s meeting. They agreed that gradual relaxation of restrictions would be possible. Yoshihide Sag, Prime Minister, is expected to announce Tuesday a lifting the emergency and other plans.
Japan will no longer have to meet any emergency needs for the first time since April. Officials from the government are working to prepare for the relaxation of restrictions by creating other plans, such as vaccination passports or virus tests.
All 27 prefectures have ended their emergency and other measures at the end September. Experts believe that the emergency situation in 19 areas should be reduced to a quasi-emergency to prevent infections from quickly returning. The government is currently considering this strategy.
Most of the emergency requests have been for bars and restaurants to close earlier and stop serving alcohol. Governors in Osaka and Kyoto, Hyogo, and Kyoto said that they would honor these requests while closely monitoring the virus situation.
Japan wants to increase social and economic activities, while also balancing the need for the prevention of the next wave. As the governing party selects Suga’s replacement later in this week, the government is under intense pressure to ensure effective virus strategies in advance of the two-month-long parliamentary elections.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, Economy and Fiscal Minister, was also responsible for COVID-19 measures. He said that the relief of the measures would be gradual because of cooler weather raising concerns about a resurgence.
Officials stated that restaurants and commercial establishments that are currently closed early should gradually return to normal, while authorities strengthen health care systems in preparation for the next outbreak.
Dr. Shigeru Omi (top medical advisor to the government) stated that “lifting of the emergency does not mean we are 100% free.” “The government needs to send a clear message that we cannot relax slowly and must not raise the emergency alarm,” Dr. Shigeru Omi, top medical adviser for the government, said.
He asked the authorities to tighten their controls quickly if there are any early signs of a resurgence before holiday periods.
The ongoing, fifth emergency declared by Japan in April was repeatedly extended. It has now been the longest since the outbreak of the pandemic last year. Despite frustration and public weariness over the measures Japan managed to avoid more restrictive lockdowns elsewhere, while still recording approximately 1.69 million infections and 17.500 deaths from COVID-19.
Infections began to increase in July. They reached their peak in August after the Olympics. There were more than 5,000 cases in Tokyo alone, and over 25,000 in total nationwide. Many patients were unable to find beds in hospitals and had to stay at home to deal with the disease.
Officials from the Olympics and the government deny that the Olympics directly contributed to the increase, but experts say the festive atmosphere encouraged people to be more active socially and was indirectly responsible.
After being criticised for his government’s anti-virus measures and his refusal to host the Olympics in a pandemic, Suga decided that he would not continue as party leader and premiership.
Daily reported cases have dropped to about 2,000 across the country — less than one-tenth from the peak in mid-August. Experts attribute the decline in cases to progress in vaccinations (56% of the population has been fully vaccinated) and people who are more socially disengaged after the collapse of the medical system.
Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine minister, recently stated that Japan is also planning to begin administering boosters — a third shot to those who have received two shots — to media personnel by the end this year and to older people in the beginning of next year.