Japan decided on Friday to remove an existing spectator cap on attendance at large-scale events as well as ease rules on eating and drinking establishments, mostly relating to any future COVID-19 state of emergency, as the country has seen a sharp decline in new and serious coronavirus cases.

Under the new plan approved by a government panel of experts in the morning, full attendance at venues will be allowed under certain conditions, including putting a system in place to check whether visitors have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. The cap will not be reimposed during virus emergencies.

"We will take every possible step to protect the lives and health of people even under the next wave of infections so people can continue to lead safe and secure everyday lives," said economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, in charge of the government's coronavirus response, at the panel's meeting.