Japan panel OKs easing of quasi-emergency removal criteria
12:42 JST, March 12, 2022
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A government panel Friday approved a plan to allow the COVID-19 quasi-emergency designation currently covering 18 prefectures to be removed even if local hospital bed occupancy rates exceed 50%.
Under new criteria for the removal endorsed by the panel of experts on novel coronavirus responses, the government will consider removing the designation if either the number of daily COVID-19 cases is on a decline or the occupancy rate of hospital beds for coronavirus patients falls.
Until now, both conditions had to be met in order for the central government to consider removing prefectures from its quasi-emergency list.
In some prefectures under the quasi-emergency designation, their bed occupancy rates are staying above 50 pct. But daily COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend in most of the 18 prefectures.
The panel also approved a government plan to scrap restrictions on the number of attendees for large-scale events involving 5,000 people or more, provided that organizers carry out required coronavirus safety measures.
The government will decide as early as next week what to do with the quasi-emergency designation of the 18 prefectures, currently slated to expire March 21.
“We must consider the huge impact that movement restrictions have on society,” Shigeru Omi, head of the panel, told a press conference after the panel’s meeting Friday.
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