Tokyo lifts coronavirus alert, all businesses to reopen

The Tokyo metropolitan government lifted its “Tokyo alert” that was issued on June 2 due to a sharp rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases detected in the capital.

Along with lifting the alert on Thursday, which was aimed at making Tokyo residents aware of the extent of new infections spreading in the capital, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Thursday that business restrictions in the capital will be further eased from Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We have almost finished requesting companies to suspend their businesses. We are entering a new stage where we are able to fully carry out economic and social activities,” Koike said.

From Friday, as the capital enters its next and final phase of easing business restrictions, restaurants and pubs will be allowed to stay open for longer, and karaoke boxes, game centers and pachinko parlors will be allowed to reopen for the first time since the virus-induced restrictions were imposed.

But Koike warned that residents need to remain vigilant and businesses should take the necessary anti-virus precautions as a second wave of COVID-19 infections at some point could not be ruled out.

“We need to take appropriate anti-virus measures to prepare for a possible second wave of infections,” she said.

Koike had previously said that if the number of COVID-19 cases spiked again in the capital then the Tokyo metropolitan government would once again request businesses and people to restrict their activities.

According to the Tokyo government, there were 22 new infections confirmed on Thursday, rising from 18 recorded a day earlier.

While six of the new cases were connected to nightspots, 10 had unidentified transmission routes, the Tokyo government said.

The Tokyo metropolitan government issued the alert on June 2 as 34 new coronavirus infections were reported in the capital, marking the highest since the state of emergency over the virus was completely lifted for Japan a week earlier.

The spike in coronavirus cases in June marked the first time since March 14 that daily infections had breached the 30 mark in the city of about 14 million people.

Since mid-April, in Tokyo, the hardest-hit among all of Japan’s 47 prefectures by the pneumonia-causing virus, the number of recorded daily COVID-19 cases had been decreasing, with multiple days of single-digit cases cases seen over a period of time through May, until the uptick in June.

Koike previously said that an alert for Tokyo will be issued if the number of new infections exceeds 20 a day or the ratio of the weekly new infection increases to more than one compared to the previous week.

She also said another barometer for issuing an alert would be if the ratio for unknown infection routes climbs to more than 50 per cent.