The Japanese government fully lifted its second coronavirus state of emergency on Monday after extending it twice, as the nation remains on high alert for a rebound in infections, APA reports citing Japan Times.
Tokyo and neighboring Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, the last four prefectures remaining under the state of emergency, were removed from the measure.
Aiming to prevent a fourth wave of infections and bring the situation under control, the government will call for full-fledged measures against the deadly virus to be kept in place at eating and drinking establishments, while also strengthening the testing and medical service systems.
“We’ll work on containing the virus as soon as possible and taking back a safe and lively normal life,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a speech at an annual convention of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sunday. “We’ll remain alert for coronavirus variants and aims to prevent a rebound of infections without lowering the guard.”
Despite the full removal of the emergency, there has been little room for optimism as the nation sees signs of a resurgence of the coronavirus, with the downtrend in new infections halting and even rising in some areas.
Mutant strains of the virus, which are believed to be more contagious, have also been increasing, leaving the central and local governments to face the difficult task of balancing coronavirus countermeasures with efforts to reinvigorate economic activity.
Restaurants and bars in Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures will be asked to close by 9 p.m. between Monday and March 31, extending opening times by one hour from when the state of emergency was in place.
For April and later, the four prefectural governments plan to allow these facilities to operate even longer in stages while continuing to ask them for the time being to close earlier than under normal conditions.