Japan considers easing curbs in Tokyo, Osaka from June 21

The Japanese government is considering easing the Covid-19 restrictions in Tokyo and Osaka from June 21, an official said.

Tokyo and Osaka are likely to be kept under a quasi-state of emergency with less tough measures to be implemented, and the state of emergency for most of the 10 prefectures covered will be lifted on the planned end date of June 20, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying on Friday.

The government aims to prevent a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of the Tokyo Olympics slated to start on July 23.

In areas to be put under a quasi-state of emergency, the government plans to continue asking restaurants to shorten their opening hours but is considering lifting the ban on sales of alcoholic beverages.

A state of emergency approves orders for certain facilities to shut down, while a quasi-state of emergency allows shortening opening hours.

A formal decision is expected to be made at a government meeting next wek, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga meets relevant ministers and a subcommittee of experts to discuss restrictions on major events to be held in July and August.