First weekend after state of emergency extended

Japan has entered its first weekend since the coronavirus state of emergency was extended for nine prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka. Some facilities have reopened with anti-infection measures in place.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of Tokyo's most popular parks, reopened to the public on Friday. It closed on April 25.

A visitor to the park said he decided to go out for the day because the weather is improving and he's been spending too much time indoors.

The park is limiting the number of entrants per hour to 2,000 until June 20, the day the extension period ends. It has also brought the closing time forward from 6 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Park authorities are asking visitors to eat and drink only with family members or in groups of four or fewer people. Alcohol is prohibited.

The southern prefecture of Okinawa is struggling to halt the spread of the virus. Authorities have introduced tougher measures in a bid to curb the movement of people and rein in infections.

They've asked large commercial facilities to close areas that sell non-essential items on weekends.

On Saturday, a department store in the city of Naha shut sections selling jewelry and other goods. Even areas selling food had relatively few customers.

Meanwhile, vaccinations are being rolled out across the country.

In Osaka, Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo visited a state-run vaccination site. Self-Defense Force personnel are helping out there.

He said the government will continue to do all it can so that as many people as possible are vaccinated as soon as possible, in a safe and efficient manner.

The country began vaccinating the elderly in April. Officials say just over 7 million people aged 65 or older had received their first shot by Friday. That's roughly 20 percent of the elderly population.

Health authorities across Japan reported more than 2,600 new cases on Saturday, and 56 deaths.