Japan studying ways to ease COVID restrictions

New coronavirus infections have continued to decline in the week since Japan lifted its state of emergency. Now, officials want to further ease restrictions on social activities. The government is now testing ways to increase the number of travelers and spectators at sporting events.

Tokyo reported 143 new cases on Thursday. That's 75 fewer than the same day last week.

At a meeting of experts monitoring the situation in Tokyo, the alert levels for medical systems were lowered for the first time in about 10 months.

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko said, " We will continue promoting the vaccine rollout and antibody cocktail treatments. We will also work to curtail people's movements at night to prevent a rebound in infections, while supporting a return to normal daily life and economic activity."

Authorities are considering ways to safely ease restrictions. They're studying a method that identifies people with a low risk of spreading the coronavirus, such as those who have received two vaccine doses or have tested negative.

The system was trialed at a J-League soccer game on Wednesday. The maximum capacity for the event was set at 10,000. But around 1,800 more were allowed in after producing proof they were fully vaccinated, or had tested negative within three days of the game.

A Tokyo travel agency is also participating in the government's experiment.

Preparations are under way to start accepting reservations later this month for a tour based on the so called vaccine-virus-test package system.

The government plans to expand the system to other areas depending on the trial results.