Japan to lift spectator cap in easing of COVID-19 restrictions

Nov 17 ,2021. 15 hours ago – 19:10 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – A Japanese government panel on the novel coronavirus response gave the green light Tuesday for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including scrapping the cap on spectators at events under certain conditions.

The government’s subcommittee on the COVID-19 response approved the proposed relaxation of restrictions based on a system to check whether people have been vaccinated or tested negative for the virus.

Under the “vaccine and test package,” a government initiative to enable more people to go out, COVID-19 tests for children aged under six would not be required if they are accompanied by a parent.

The government will make a formal decision, possibly on Friday, regarding the recommendations, which would also see dining out no longer limited to four per table.

“Restrictions that were imposed under the emergency declaration can be relaxed to a certain extent,” said economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, citing the progress of vaccinations and the development of COVID-19 treatment drugs.

More than 75 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Japanese government.

Under the planned easing of restrictions, businesses implementing the package will be asked to register with prefectural governments. The vaccination certificates would be valid 14 days after individuals receive their second shots.

While polymerase chain reaction tests would be recommended, antigen tests would also be acceptable.

As for large-scale events, the government is considering removing or raising attendance caps on condition that organizers submit infection prevention plans to prefectural governments and spectators do not raise their voices when cheering.

Venues could be filled to capacity even under a state of emergency, providing the vaccine and test package is implemented.

The government would also allow restaurants and bars, which have obtained certification and have been recognized as taking proper precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, to operate until 9 p.m. and serve alcoholic beverages even if a state of emergency is declared.

Restaurants and bars in areas under a quasi-state of emergency would not be required to shorten business hours.

Travelers and those on business trips can now cross prefectural borders with proof of vaccination or a negative test result. People were previously asked to refrain from making nonessential outings during coronavirus states of emergency.

Should there be a resurgence of infections and the country’s health care system again comes under strain, the government would stop pushing the package and again call for stricture measures to restrict people’s activities.

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