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Japan to fully lift COVID-19 restrictions as infections slow

Fumio Kishida
Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 17:24:32-04

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced plans to fully lift coronavirus restrictions on March 21 as new infections driven by the highly contagious omicron variant slow.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Kishida said COVID-19 restrictions currently in place in 18 prefectures, including the Tokyo area, will end on Monday as planned, as his government seeks to cautiously expand consumer activity to help the badly hurt economy get back on track.

It will be the first time Japan has been free of virus restrictions since early January.

Daily caseloads have steadily declined in Japan in recent weeks after surging to new highs exceeding 100,000 in early February.

New cases have now fallen by about half.

But its borders will remain closed to foreign tourists, which a date has not been announced, the Associated Press reported.