Akihabara on October 13 (photo: Daryl Harding)
With new COVID-19 cases dropping down to just 26 in Tokyo, 51 in Osaka, and the pressures on the medical system easing, the governments of the greater Tokyo and Osaka Metropolitan have confirmed that they will be easing some COVID-19 restriction requests on all facets of Japanese life. Though some will stay in place for the time being, as well as having restaurants needed to go through a certification process.
Restaurants, bars, eateries, and the like who have been COVID-19 certified by the local prefectures will be able to remain open at all times and serve alcohol. Though some places will require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or a negative test for patrons to get the full range of services offered.
In Saitama Prefecture, a trial is being held on a wider scale to see what requiring proof of vaccination will affect establishments, with eateries asking at the door for proof and requiring those not yet vaccinated to remain in groups of four or less, have plexiglass or plastic between them, and limits on how much alcohol can be drunk. Those vaccinated will have no restrictions.
Tokyo Station on September 25 (Photo: Daryl Harding)
Events will remain capped at half capacity for venues that hold less than 5,000 or more than 10,000 people. For venues between these ranges, the cap is limited to 5,000 people. All of these numbers include staff. Karaoke parlors will operate mostly as per normal, with businesses choosing what requirements they’ll have on staff. Schools will remain open, though after-school activities have been asked to stay on top of social distancing guidelines, especially among elementary students who are currently unable to be vaccinated.
Infection rates in Japan are currently at the lowest in a year, with only 325 new cases across Japan on October 22. On the same date, it was revealed that 76.1% of the entire Japanese population (including those under 12 who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated) have had their first vaccination, with 68.2% of those being inoculated twice – that’s 86.93 million people!
Despite this, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has told residents to remain cautious as Japan heads into winter, where New Year’s parties, traveling to see family in the countryside, and festivals become more prevalent. Shibuya City has asked people to not come to the city for Halloween for the second year in a row, employing characters from Case Closed to try and get the message across.
— Eternally (@Eternally88) October 19, 2021
If you or someone you know is living in Japan, coronavirus-based English resources are available at NHK World Japan.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.