Japan cautiously weighs easing capacity limits

Japan's government plans to proceed cautiously on deciding whether to further ease attendance limits at public events on August 1, following a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

A panel of experts is due to discuss the issue on Wednesday. Event capacity is currently capped at 5,000.

Officials are increasingly concerned about the recent rise in cases, especially among elderly people and seriously-ill patients.

The minister in charge of coronavirus response, Nishimura Yasutoshi, met Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko on Tuesday to discuss a response, ahead of a four-day holiday from Thursday.

Some local government leaders have voiced concern that the central government's travel promotion campaign from Wednesday could lead to the further spread of the virus.

Some governors are calling for revisions to a special law to deal with the epidemic to make infection-prevention measures more enforceable.

The government intends to put off doing the time-consuming work on a legal overhaul until the virus is contained, while allowing stronger action within the framework of the existing law.

Local leaders can now ask businesses that are not complying with infection-prevention guidelines to suspend their operations, without a state of emergency declaration in place.

Police can visit nightclubs and call for thorough precautions, based a law governing adult entertainment businesses and other regulations.