The government presented a proposal for the complete lifting of the state of emergency to a meeting of an advisory panel of experts ahead of the announcement.
“The number of new infection cases has decreased by about 80% from the peak level. Also, the hospital bed utilization rate has dropped to the 30% level in Chiba and Saitama prefectures,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of pandemic measures, explaining the reasons for the decision at the advisory panel meeting on the day.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Nishimura said: Infections “will continue to occur, but we will not allow cases to become widespread. We will lift the emergency and maintain vigilance.”
The advisory panel also approved a plan to revise the government’s basic policy on dealing with the pandemic.
According to the plan, the government will ramp up testing as soon as possible and analyze specimens from about 40% of the total number of newly infected cases.
This move is aimed at strengthening monitoring of the pandemic nationwide amid a rise in infections with coronavirus variants.
Cooperation with private testing institutions and universities will be promoted to enhance the testing system. Efforts will also be strengthened to identify early signs of infection outbreaks.
The government will ask 10 prefectures, including Osaka and Fukuoka, where a state of emergency had been issued, to conduct intensive testing at elderly care facilities hopefully by the end of this month. From April to June, intensive testing will be conducted in entertainment districts.
The government will also accelerate efforts to roll out vaccinations and enhance the medical system.
To prevent a reemergence of infections, the government will continue to ask restaurants to shorten their business hours and close early. Under the state of emergency, such businesses were asked to close by 8 p.m. but they will be allowed to stay open until 9 p.m. when it is lifted.
The government will also continue asking the general public to refrain from nonessential and nonurgent outings and businesses to implement telecommuting.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reported the decision to lift the emergency at meetings of the Rules and Administration Committees of both houses of the Diet on Thursday
The current state of emergency, which was issued on Jan. 7 and extended twice, has lasted for about two and a half months.
Published : March 19, 2021
By : The Japan News/ANN