Tokyo and Osaka have lifted Covid-19 restrictions on dining and drinking establishments, effective Oct. 25.
The number of nationwide Covid-19 cases has been declining with 236 new cases reported on Sunday (Oct. 24), as compared to the fifth wave of infections in mid-August with over 25,000 cases reported, said The Japan Times.
Restrictions were removed after almost a year
On Oct. 25, Tokyo announced its lowest number of daily Covid-19 cases — 17 — while Osaka also reported its lowest daily Covid-19 infections this year with 26 cases, according to The Japan Times.
This is a promising figure as Tokyo and Osaka lift restrictions that stop bars and restaurants from serving alcohol by 8pm and force them to close by 9pm.
These restrictions were implemented in November 2020.
According to Time Out, more than 102,000 bars and eateries in Tokyo, certified for Covid-19 safety protocols, will be able to stay open and serve alcohol without any restrictions on its opening hours.
About 18,000 businesses that haven’t been certified will continue to follow Covid-19 restrictions, including a curfew of 9pm to stop serving alcohol.
Meanwhile, around 41,800 certified establishments in the Osaka prefecture will continue to stop providing alcohol by 8:30pm and close by 9pm, reported Kyodo News.
Establishments in Tokyo will continue to be asked to limit patrons to four per table although five or more patrons will be allowed as long as they are able to present their vaccination status.
The Osaka prefectural government will, on the other hand, continue to limit the number of diners at one table to four and request that patrons refrain from dining for longer than two hours.
Other prefectures to lift the ban
Kyodo News reported that three prefectures surrounding Tokyo — Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama — also lifted the ban yesterday (Oct. 25).
Osaka's neighbouring prefectures, Hyogo and Kyoto, will lift restrictions on Friday (Oct. 29), while Okinawa is planning to do so on Nov. 1.
Risk of a resurgence in Covid-19 numbers
According to CNA, Hiroshi Nishiura, a professor at Kyoto University, School of Public Health, said that the summer spike in cases was mainly due to trends in human activities like those during holiday breaks.
The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, said that lifting restrictions on eateries will significantly stimulate the economy, but the authorities will monitor the situation in the coming months as people participate in year-end parties or travel back to their hometowns during the holiday which could lead to the spread of infections, reported Kyodo News.
However, experts claimed that infection trends could be more correlated to yearly seasonal trends and not so much about travelling, said CNA.
As of Oct. 26, over 70 per cent of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated, according to Kyodo News.
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