Japan seeks to end Tokyo virus emergency one month ahead of Olympics

(Bloomberg) – The Japanese government has recommended ending the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and other areas on June 20 as planned, as infections declined about a month before the country welcomed the Summer Olympics.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is also in charge of Covid policy, said on Thursday the government was seeking to end the measure, around two months after it was first imposed in the capital. The formal decision will be made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who will hold a press conference later Thursday to discuss the matter.

The Olympics, delayed for a year due to the coronavirus, appear to be on track for a start on July 23, although polls show large numbers of Japanese want to cancel or delay the global sports spectacle over fears it does become a super-broadcaster an event.

Olympic organizers are expected to make a decision later this month on whether to allow spectators. The government supports a 10,000-person limit for public events, which could be applied to the Olympics, and Suga said he would like to see fans in the stands for the games.

Handling the viruses is crucial for Suga, who faces a party leadership election in September and is due to hold a general election by the end of October. While none of the opposition parties have enough backing to topple their ruling Liberal Democrats, any major public health issues related to the Olympics could prompt the PLD to replace Suga as prime minister.

The number of infections in Tokyo fell from 1,027 on April 29 to a seven-day average of 385 new cases per day as of June 16, but the pace of the decline has recently slowed. The vaccination rollout in Japan, which has accelerated in recent weeks, is still among the slowest in a developed country, with most of the population likely not having received a dose by the start of the ceremony. opening of the Olympic Games.

Targeted virus measures will be in place until July 11 in many areas where the emergency is over, including the capital and Osaka, Nishimura said. In the current emergency, bars and restaurants are prohibited from serving alcohol and must close before 8 p.m., and individuals are urged to avoid unnecessary travel.

Nishimura said restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until 7 p.m. if certain conditions are met.

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