Japan moves to relax coronavirus restrictions for events

For professional baseball games and soccer matches, there is a current restriction of no more than 5,000 attendees.
For professional baseball games and soccer matches, there is a current restriction of no more than 5,000 attendees.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan is preparing to relax restrictions on attendance numbers for events including professional sports games, according to Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

For professional baseball games and soccer matches, the government is considering eliminating the current restriction of no more than 5,000 attendees and replacing it with an up to 50 per cent capacity rule, the Yomiuri reported on Saturday (Sept 12).

The government is also considering adding Tokyo to a national tourism campaign from Oct 1 to promote travel, Mr Nishimura said late on Friday.

Tokyo had been excluded from the initiative that offers discounts on travel after the capital saw a spike in coronavirus infections during the summer, but cases have since fallen.

The moves are the latest by Japan to ease restrictions aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, as the recent wave of infections subsides and the government seeks to further open the economy.

Tokyo on Thursday lowered its virus alert one notch from what had been the highest level.

Next Tuesday, the city plans to end restrictions on operating hours for bars and restaurants, allowing them to stay open longer.

Japan is also moving towards a gradual opening of its borders, with the government announcing on Friday that Singapore and Japan will begin a reciprocal green lane for business and official travel on Sept 18.