• Jiji


Tokyo and Osaka said Friday they will ease COVID-19 restrictions on large-scale facilities following a decision by the central government to extend a state of emergency until June 20.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will allow cultural facilities such as cinemas and museums to operate until 9 p.m. at 50% capacity, starting Tuesday.

Restaurants and bars in Tokyo and Osaka will still be asked not to serve alcohol. Restaurants that don’t serve alcohol will be permitted to operate until 8 p.m.

The two cities will relax closure requests for large-scale commercial facilities, allowing them to operate until 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Osaka Prefecture will scale back its closure request for cinemas and permit them to open on weekdays until 9 p.m., albeit with limited capacity.

Events in Osaka will be allowed to go ahead until 9 p.m. on weekdays with limited capacity but spectators won’t be allowed, in principle, on weekends.

The central government allows large-scale facilities to open under shorter operating hours, but Tokyo and Osaka have been asking such facilities to stay closed.

The two metropolises now face a challenge as they look to curb people’s movements while relaxing restrictions, as significant concerns remain over the spread of coronavirus variants.

“If the Indian variant causes a resurgence of infections, I’ll toughen restrictions,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told a news conference that she will bring back closure requests if infection cases go higher.

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