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The government officially declared Thursday that the coronavirus state of emergency currently imposed on Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures will be lifted Monday, but officials are urging the public to stay vigilant to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, reports Satoshi Sugiyama.

The emergency’s effectiveness seems to have reached its limit as the number of new cases in the region stubbornly refuses to decline. Now, toasty weather and blooming cherry blossoms are just a couple of the forgotten pleasures that may entice people to let their guard down, writes Ryusei Takahashi.

People stroll through Yoyogi Park, where orange fencing has been installed to prevent people from holding drinking parties under the cherry blossom trees, on Monday. | RYUSEI TAKAHASHI
People stroll through Yoyogi Park, where orange fencing has been installed to prevent people from holding drinking parties under the cherry blossom trees, on Monday. | RYUSEI TAKAHASHI

Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa are planning to ask dining establishments to close at 9 p.m. rather than 8 through at least the end of March. On Thursday, the capital ordered 27 defiant restaurants and bars to shorten their hours or face fines of up to ¥300,000, the first such orders under a recently revised law.

The same day, the health ministry said the government plans to include people with severe mental illnesses or disabilities in a priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations. With the addition of an extra 2.1 million people, the number of those with underlying conditions on the list will total 10.3 million.

Thursday’s (and last Thursday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 323 (335), Kanagawa 160 (125), Osaka 141 (88), Chiba 122 (122), Saitama 115 (126), Miyagi 98 (53), Hokkaido 96 (71), Hyogo 76 (58), Ibaraki 47 (36), Fukuoka 45 (31), Okinawa 43 (29), Aichi 38 (66). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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