Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Wednesday that the government will postpone relaxing attendance limits for major events until end of August in a bid to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The minister, who heads up the government’s fight against the deadly virus, made the remarks during a government expert panel meeting after some members pushed for the postponement of an easing of restrictions on large events involving more than 5,000 participants.

“We’ll keep (the cap) until the end of August,” Nishimura told reporters after the meeting.

Since July 10, the government has been setting a cap on event attendees at 5,000. The government had hoped to do away with the numerical threshold for all events and set a new rule, allowing organizers to use “up to about half the capacity” of event venues.

But recent rises in infections in urban areas have amplified public concerns and prompted infectious disease experts to call for more vigilance.

At the meeting, Nishimura said that the number of coronavirus cases is increasing not only in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Kansai region but also in the central prefecture of Aichi and the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka.

“I’d like you to discuss what kind of measures are needed to prepare for various situations,” Nishimura told the meeting.

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