The Japanese government will lift the state of health emergency in most of the country's departments on Sunday, including Tokyo, which is due to host the Olympic Games in just over a month, while maintaining certain restrictions.
Tokyo and several other Japanese departments have been subject since the end of April to a state of emergency regime which consists mainly of closing bars and restaurants in the early evening and prohibiting them from selling alcohol.
The government will consult health experts Thursday to place ten departments "in a quasi-state of emergency", said Thursday the Minister of Economy Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also coordinates the management of the health crisis, which has declined. intensity in Japan in recent weeks.
As part of this relaxed arrangement, bars and restaurants will once again be allowed to serve alcohol, but only until 7 p.m., and will have to continue to close at 8 p.m. as is currently the case, he said. minister.
A gauge of 10,000 people maximum per site
The current state of emergency will also be extended for the Okinawa department (southwest of Japan), added Mr. Nishimura.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was to hold a press conference in the early evening (Japanese time) to formalize these decisions.
The lightened restrictions will also make it possible to re-authorize events (sporting events, concerts) with spectators, but with a tonnage of 50% of the reception capacities of each site and within a limit of 10,000 people maximum.
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The Japanese media reported on Wednesday that the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, which will open on July 23, should use these criteria for hosting spectators residing in Japan.
The presence of spectators from abroad was banned in March, a first for the Olympics, and a decision for those living in Japan should be taken early next week, according to several local media.
More than 80% of athletes vaccinated
Health experts advising the government, however, concluded that it would be safer to hold the Olympics behind closed doors.
They should therefore advocate for additional rules if local viewers were admitted, according to public broadcaster NHK.
The organizers have been trying for months to reassure Japanese public opinion about the Olympics by providing sometimes drastic restrictions for all participants.
Athletes will thus risk being disqualified if they violate anti-Covid measures, such as their daily screening tests and wearing a mask, the organizers warned on Tuesday, unveiling updated rules.
Organizers expect more than 80% of athletes to be vaccinated by the Games, but they will still be deprived of interacting with the public in Japan.
A vaccination passport
Japan also announced Thursday that it will provide Japanese travelers with a vaccine passport from next month, as governments around the world seek to revive tourism and business travel.
"We are preparing to issue a vaccination certificate for those who need it (...) when visiting foreign countries," Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
This certificate will be on paper rather than digital and will be issued by local authorities from July, he said.
The European Union is working on a digital health pass for this summer, to be able to welcome tourists, and some EU countries are planning to introduce certificates at national level. The European version will include information detailing whether a person has been vaccinated or has been infected with Covid-19, whether they have tested negative and whether they have recovered.