Fewer infections lead Japan to study relaxing cinema eating rule

SEP 29 , 2020. 10 hours ago – 23:28 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – Japan will consider easing a rule on eating at movie theaters, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Monday, in an additional relaxation amid a recent decline in the number of novel coronavirus infections.

While movie theaters in Japan have been allowed to sell all their seats since Sept. 19, eating is only allowed if audiences are limited to 50 percent of auditorium capacity to prevent infection.

Movie theater operators had asked the government to ease the restriction, Nishimura, who is in charge of responding to the pandemic, told a press conference.

While the government has determined that it is safe to consume beverages in movie theaters, Nishimura said people need to take off face masks for longer periods to eat.

He added the government will make a decision based on scientific data to determine whether it is safe to relax the rule.

The move comes as Tokyo confirmed 78 new infections, down from 144 on Sunday and 270 on Saturday. The capital is the hardest-hit area among the country’s 47 prefectures and reported 59 cases — its lowest daily figure in about three months — last Wednesday.

On Monday, a total of 301 cases were reported nationwide, bringing the cumulative total to 83,214, including about 700 cases from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February.

While the number of infections in the country has been on a downward trend since mid-August, an advisory group for the health ministry warned last week that the pace of decline has been slowing recently.