Japan is set to remove a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other prefectures on Monday, allowing businesses to gradually resume.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, at a special task force meeting, asked experts on a government-commissioned panel to evaluate a plan to lift the measure.
“It appears the measure is no longer needed in all of the prefectures,” Mr Nishimura said.
The experts are expected to approve the plan at the meeting, paving the way for an official announcement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7, first in parts of Japan including Tokyo, before expanding it to the entire nation later in the month and extended it until the end of May.
Unlike a European-style hard lockdown, Japan’s state of emergency is soft and largely a request for people to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close or operate shorter hours, a strategy aimed at minimising the economic damage.
Over the past week, more people have returned to work, shopping and other places under “new lifestyles” of anti-infection measures and physical distancing.
Mr Nishimura said recent data suggested that the infections have slowed enough and the medical systems are under less pressure and that it is time to gradually resume social and economic activity.
Japan has 16,580 confirmed cases and 830 deaths, according to the health ministry.
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