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Tokyo Lifts COVID-19 Alert, Aims to Let Music Venues Reopen on June 19 – News

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government lifted on Thursday the alert it had ordered due to the recent spike in new cases of COVID-19. Tokyo also entered the third and final stage of its recovery road map for COVID-19 at midnight on Friday, and it aims to end closure requests for live music venues one week later on June 19. However, the national and metropolitan governments still have guidelines that limit the numbers of attendees at concerts, exhibitions, and professional sports.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at a meeting of the capital’s coronavirus task force on Thursday, « It will be a long time until treatment or vaccination is available, so we must learn to live with the coronavirus and maintain the necessary precautions to prevent a second wave.” Koike previously said she would consider reissuing closure requests for businesses if the average daily new cases surpassed 50, more than half of new infections were untraceable, or new infections doubled in one week.

Tokyo is aiming to allow night clubs, karaoke parlors, live houses (smaller indoor live music venues), and other entertainment establishments that serve food to reopen on June 19. The move would effectively remove all remaining closure requests that Tokyo has in place for businesses. Restaurants and bars will be permitted to stay open until midnight.

The national government is asking concerts and exhibitions to limit attendees to 50% of the venue’s capacity, at least until the end of July. For now, they may not have more than 100 attendees indoors, although outdoor concerts may go up to 200. They may have up to 1,000 attendees after June 19, and up to 5,000 attendees after July 10. Professional sports may resume on June 19 without attendees, and may have up to 5,000 attendees (or 50% of the venue’s capacity) after July 10.

The government will also allow travel between all prefectures as of June 19. Travel between most prefectures resumed on June 1 when the Tokyo government moved to the second phase of its recovery roadmap. However, the government is asking people not to travel to or from Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, and Hokkaido until June 19.

Tokyo had issued its virus alert for increased new cases on June 2. Tokyo lit up its iconic Rainbow Bridgeand the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in red to highlight the alert status, but switched to rainbow colors (pictured above right in a Kyodo photograph) on Thursday to highlight the lifting of the alert.

The number of daily new coronavirus infections rose to 25 on Friday, the second consecutive day that Japan’s capital has seen that number exceed 20. The criteria for lifting virus countermeasures in Tokyo includes the weekly average of daily new cases remaining below 20.

Tokyo recorded 22 new infections on Thursday, 12 of which where new patients who had come into close contact with people known to be infected. Six of those cases were connected to night clubs and other entertainment establishments. The 10 remaining new infections on Thursday were untraceable cases with no identified transmission routes. Tokyo had reported a weekly average of 17.9 new daily cases as of Thursday.

Japan lifted the state of emergency in the five remaining prefectures — Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Hokkaido — on May 25, six days earlier than the planned May 31 date.

Sources: NHK (link 2, link 3), The Japan Times (Ryusei Takahashi; link 2), The Mainichi, Kyodo News

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