Tokyo officials are reporting the smallest number of new coronavirus infections in two months. Only three cases were confirmed in the capital on Friday.
It comes as the central government considers lifting a state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area early next week. In total, more than 5,100 people have tested positive for the virus in the city of about 14 million.
Tokyo officials are monitoring the situation using 7 indicators, including the number of new infections in the past week and the rate of positive results in virus tests.
The governor says Tokyo currently meets the criteria set by the central government for lifting the state of emergency...which has been in place since April 7.
Governor Koike Yuriko says, "We need to resume economic and social activities while preventing the infectious disease from spreading. We will achieve this by establishing new norms and daily routines."
Officials plan to gradually ease their request for public facilities and businesses to be closed.
Step one includes reopening indoor sports facilities. That will allow professional baseball and basketball leagues to restart...but without spectators in the stands. It will also allow top athletes to resume practicing at national training centers.
Shop owners in a popular district are hoping business will pick up, but admit that it may take some time.
A male owner says, "I hope more customers will come shopping on their way to and from the museums."
A female owner says, "I'm afraid it will take a while for people to feel comfortable walking around and shopping like before."
Right now restaurants and bars are being asked to close at 8 p.m. except for takeaway. But under step one, they will be allowed to stay open until 10 p.m.
Tokyo officials plan to implement the plan as soon as the central government lifts the state of emergency... which could come as early as Monday.
The declaration has been lifted for most of Japan. But it's still in place in Tokyo, its 3 neighboring prefectures and the northern prefecture of Hokkaido.
Tokyo's governor is also calling on the central government to shore up its medical capabilities as the capital braces for a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Koike made the request when she met the minister in charge of the central government's response to the virus.
Koike said, "We agreed that we need restrictions and measures wherever necessary to prevent a fresh outbreak."
Koike said she also asked the central government to provide sufficient financial support to people affected by the pandemic, such as rent subsidies for business owners.