Amid a recent rapid rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, including a daily record of 1,634 on Thursday, the government decided at a panel meeting the same day to maintain its current cap on the number of spectators permitted at large events at 50% of venue capacity until the end of February.

The government had originally imposed the restriction on spectator numbers until the end of this month, but has decided to keep the cap for another three months.

"We are on high alert," Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the government's COVID-19 response, told the panel. "We must prevent an explosive expansion of the infection," he said.