Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga explains the lifting of the state of emergency at the Diet session on Sept. 28. (Koichi Ueda) 

With COVID-19 cases falling, the government at its task force meeting on Sept. 28 officially decided to allow the state of emergency declared for 19 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, to expire on Sept. 30.

The plan was approved by the government’s expert panel on response to the COVID-19 health crisis in the morning on the same day.

However, after the state of emergency is lifted, the 19 prefectures will continue asking eating and drinking establishments to shorten their business hours. The respective governors will decide on allowing the establishments to serve alcoholic beverages.

Pre-emergency measures won’t be issued for those prefectures after the state of emergency ends. In addition, the pre-emergency measures currently in place for eight prefectures will be lifted at the end of September.

At the expert panel meeting, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of anti-coronavirus measures, said, “We will relax measures for restaurants and bars gradually over the next month.”

Basically, establishments certified by prefectures that have taken sufficient anti-virus measures will be allowed to operate until 9 p.m. while others can remain open until 8 p.m.

Nishimura said that “the government will continue to shoulder 80 percent of the burden to provide financial assistance to restaurants and bars that comply with their requests."

Restrictions on events will also be relaxed over the next month on the maximum number of event participants to allow 50 percent of the facility capacity or up to 10,000 spectators. 

The government is mindful that a resurgence in COVID-19 cases could occur in the winter and will continue trying to boost the medical care capacity for patients with various symptoms.