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Coronavirus state of emergency to end nationwide tomorrow  

All national dailies highlighted the formal GOJ decision yesterday to lift the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency for Tokyo and 18 prefectures and the quasi-state of emergency for Miyagi and 7 other prefectures on Thursday. It will be the first time in almost six months for the nation to be entirely free of state of emergency or quasi-state of emergency measures. In its policy on dealing with the novel coronavirus that was updated yesterday, the GOJ pledged to “strike a balance between infection prevention measures and normal life,” thereby clarifying its commitment to reopening the ailing economy.   


During a transition period of one month, bars and restaurants in these prefectures will continue to be asked to limit their operating hours until 9 p.m., although they will be allowed to serve alcohol until 8 p.m. to groups of up to four people. A cap of 10,000 on spectators will be imposed for concerts, baseball and soccer games, and other large-scale events in the transition period.  According to Nikkei, the GOJ has decided that even if another state of emergency is issued in the future, eateries and bars will be allowed to serve alcohol until 9 p.m. to customers who present proof of vaccination or negative test results.   


“The war against the virus will enter a new stage,” said Prime Minister Suga last night in his final press conference before stepping down on Oct. 4. He hailed the administration’s rapid progress in rolling out vaccines, saying that Japan will soon become one of the first nations to vaccinate its population. “There is no question that the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter each day” thanks to the effects of vaccines, he added.    


In a related story, Asahi noted that most GOJ officials and public health experts are perplexed by the accelerating downward trend in infections, quoting Health Minister Tamura as saying: “The number of new cases is dropping for unknown reasons.” However, Suga is reportedly confident that the vaccine rollout is responsible for flattening the epidemic curve, with one of his top deputies saying the Suga administration could have survived if Japan had been in the current situation a month earlier.  

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