Japan eyes easing of coronavirus restrictions

Japan's government has developed plans on how to ease coronavirus restrictions in the country, including areas still placed under a state of emergency.

The government wants to balance steps to contain infections with keeping economic and social activities going.

Officials aim to ease restrictions after all people wishing to get jabbed are fully vaccinated. They plan to use a system that will identify people who have a low risk of spreading the virus, such as those who have received two vaccine doses or tested negative.

Under the plans, restaurants and bars certified by local governments as taking anti-infection measures will be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks even in areas covered by a state of emergency declaration. Restrictions on business hours and the number of customers at those establishments will be eased as well.

At schools, students will be allowed to engage in club and other extracurricular activities.

In holding events, the proposals call for the use of QR codes to track and trace those infected with the virus. Officials say such a step will enable the easing of restrictions on crowd sizes at venues in areas under a state of emergency. In regions not covered by an emergency declaration, the limits will be dropped.

Double-jabbed people will no longer be asked to refrain from inter-prefectural travel.

But officials also plan to ask people to refrain from activities in the event that a resurgence of coronavirus infections puts a serious strain on the medical system.

The government is expected to decide on the plans at a meeting on Thursday.