Japan to end COVID emergency on Thursday

Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has officially announced he will not extend the coronavirus state of emergency when it expires on Thursday.

This will be the first time since April that all emergency measures will be lifted in Japan.

But Suga says he wants to lift anti-virus precautions in phases to avoid another surge in cases.

The emergency directive currently covers 19 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka. Eight other prefectures are under less stringent measures. All will expire at the end of September.

Officials in those areas have been urging restaurants and bars not to serve alcohol. They've also been calling on shopping malls and event organizers to cap the number of visitors.

Meanwhile, new infection data suggests the current outbreak has peaked in Japan. Monday's tally in Tokyo fell below 200 for the first time in six months.

But the prime minister wants to lift anti-virus measures gradually.

Local authorities will continue asking restaurants and bars to shorten their business hours for another month.
Those eateries will be able to serve alcohol until 9 PM.