• Kyodo, Jiji


Most of the 47 prefectures have lifted or will soon lift requests for business closures caused by the coronavirus, a recent survey showed, adding to signs the economy is close to fully rebooting.

A total of 45 prefectures had requested business closures during the crisis. The survey, by Kyodo News, found that 38 had already ended the restrictions or planned to do so by Monday.

The other seven — Tokyo, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Yamanashi, Gifu and Fukuoka — will keep some the requests in place, mainly to focus on music venues, gyms and other facilities where cluster infections were discovered.

Most plan to relax the restrictions in stages.

Fukuoka is set to lift restrictions on Monday except in Kitakyushu, which saw infections surge to a daily record of 26 last week, prompting the mayor to declare Friday that it was in the middle of a second wave.

Of the 26 cases, 10 were linked to a nursing home and nine to Kitakyushu General Hospital. The Kitakyushu Municipal Government concluded that clusters had emerged at both facilities, and local officials believe the city is in the midst of a second COVID-19 wave.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fully lifted the national state of emergency on Monday, the events in Kitakyushu are supporting fears that the virus will resurface.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 22 infections on Friday. The daily tally in the capital had dropped to as low as two just before the state of emergency was lifted.

Gov. Yuriko Koike said Tokyo will enter phase two of its plan to lift business restrictions, allowing such facilities as cinemas and gyms to restart. But she also said pachinko parlors, karaoke boxes and game arcades among other leisure facilities will remain shut until the third and final phase of business recovery.

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