• Kyodo

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Coronavirus-induced rules on holding big events will be relaxed from Friday as planned, boosting the maximum number of people allowed at an indoor venue to 5,000.

The decision was made at a meeting of a revamped government expert panel Monday, on the premise that preventive measures against the virus will be taken.

Starting Friday, the number of people allowed to gather at indoor venues for sporting events or music concerts will increase to a maximum 5,000 at a time from the current 1,000. The venues should be at 50 percent capacity.

Professional baseball and soccer games have been held without spectators, but both leagues plan to start allowing them in line with the government move from Friday.

Since Japan fully emerged from the state of emergency over the coronavirus in late May, the government has been seeking to rebalance the economy and infection prevention. Economic and social activities have gradually resumed.

The expert panel, meeting for the first time, stressed the need to share real-time information on infected people across the nation and enhance virus testing.

Tokyo has been battling to stem a recent rise in newly reported coronavirus cases, with the daily count topping 100.

Despite the government’s assessment that the infection situation in the country has been under control, Tokyo is being hit by renewed concerns about a resurgence of the virus.

“It’s our common recognition that the situation is different from that in early April when the state of emergency was declared” first for Tokyo and other urban areas, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a news conference Monday after the meeting. The emergency was later expanded to the entire nation.

Nishimura said most of the newly reported cases were among young people who did not develop severe symptoms, the medical care system is not stretched and virus tests are more widely available.

But the panel remains vigilant about untraceable transmission routes, the minister said.

The 18-member panel includes experts in medicine, public health policy and economics as well as a prefectural governor.

The government had received advice from a similar panel of medical experts in navigating through the coronavirus epidemic before and during the state of emergency.

But the previous panel, which was apparently mistakenly seen by some as setting policies for the government, was suddenly scrapped last month.

The new panel will mainly assess the infection situation, discuss how to allow more economic activities to resume and increase virus testing.

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