Prime Minister Abe Shinzo says the government will lift travel restrictions across prefectural borders on Friday, as the daily number of coronavirus cases continues to fall nationwide, except in a few localities.
Abe made the announcement at a meeting of the government's taskforce on the coronavirus on Thursday.
Abe said that since the nationwide state of emergency was lifted on May 25 over three weeks ago, new cases have been reported only in a small number of prefectures. He attributed the recent rise in new cases in Tokyo to increased PCR virus tests conducted in night-entertainment districts.
Abe said the government will ease restrictions on social and economic activities by another notch on Friday.
Until now, the government has asked people to avoid non-essential travel between five specific prefectures, namely Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures and Hokkaido, where the number of infections remained relatively high. Abe said all these restrictions will be removed, starting on Friday.
There will also be a relaxation of the rules regarding the maximum number of people allowed at concerts, exhibitions, and some other indoor and outdoor events.
Night clubs, hostess bars and other businesses in night entertainment districts will be allowed to reopen from Friday on the condition that they comply with industry guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus.
Abe called on people to actively use a coronavirus contact-tracing smartphone app to be released on Friday.
The app will inform users when someone they came in close contact with has later tested positive. Abe stressed the app is designed to protect privacy.