Life inches closer to normal as Japan downgrades COVID-19

The Japanese government on Monday downgraded the legal status of COVID-19, putting it on par with the seasonal flu.

At a restaurant in Shizuoka Prefecture, plastic partitions between tables were removed before opening time. Such partitions became a common measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus between customers who had removed their masks to eat.

Care facilities for the elderly are also loosening restrictions.

Visitors to a facility in Miyagi Prefecture are now allowed to meet their loved ones in individual rooms and interact without partitions. They still have to wear face masks and follow other rules.

A clinic in Tokyo previously turned away people who showed signs of having COVID in an effort to protect elderly patients. Now the clinic and other health facilities are accepting patients who may be infected.

Doctor Kijima Fujio says he is concerned whether his clinic will be able to easily find hospital beds for COVID patients with serious symptoms. He wants the government to help medical facilities coordinate such efforts.