Govt to roll back spectator limits for big events in areas under quasi-emergency measures

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Fans attend a pro baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, in September 2020, when the spectator cap was at 50% capacity.

The government is planning to remove the cap on the number of spectators for large-scale events in place in areas under coronavirus-related quasi-emergency priority measures, if event organizers establish infection prevention plans and meet certain conditions, government sources said.

The policy will be presented to the government’s coronavirus measures subcommittee of experts as soon as Friday.

Reports of cluster infections have been rare among audiences attending such events. The government concluded that the risk of spreading the virus is not high — even without spectator caps — if proper infection prevention measures are implemented. Such measures include members of the crowd refraining from boisterous cheering.

Areas that are currently under priority measures cap the number of spectators at 20,000 for large-scale events if organizers have infection prevention plans in place, while full capacity is allowed if all in attendance are confirmed to have tested negative for the virus.

As for the so-called vaccine and testing package — in which limitations on the number of customers at eateries or spectators of events are negated when they present certain documents regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing — the government, for the time being, has decided to continue its current policy of not using the package. The decision came as experts question the effectiveness of vaccinations against the omicron variant.

The government plans to prepare a draft of the basic outline on how eateries and event organizers, as well as entities such as travel agencies and municipalities, should handle guests with proof of negative test results and holders of COVID vaccine booster shot certificates.

The government aims to implement the outline when it resumes the Go To Travel tourism promotion program.