Japan to let all COVID states of emergency lapse

The Japanese government has decided to end the coronavirus state of emergency on Thursday for Tokyo and 18 other prefectures.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said, "The number of new coronavirus cases has dropped significantly. We recognize that the situation is improving."

The prime minister said he'll finalize the plan after consulting a panel of experts on Tuesday.

The emergency decree currently covers 19 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka, until the end of September.

Officials in the areas have urged restaurants and bars not to serve alcohol. They've also called on shopping malls and event organizers to limit numbers of visitors.

Tokyo reported 154 new cases in the capital on Monday. The daily tally is below 200 for the first time in six months.

The seven-day average through Monday was less than half the figure of the previous week.

But even if the state of emergency is lifted, some restrictions will likely remain.

Several governors are considering allowing alcohol at restaurants but with shortened business hours.

They say they will come up with measures after reviewing the central government's plan.