Japan’s live events sector is cautiously welcoming the Tokyo authorities’ announcement that the capital city is moving into its final stage of reopening, which includes lifting business closure requests for entertainment and recreational facilities.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said yesterday it has deactivated the Tokyo Alert, which informs residents when new cases of COVID-19 surge, and has entered phase three of the capital’s roadmap.

According to the Japan Times, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday during a meeting of the city’s coronavirus task force: “In this third and final stage, nearly all business closure requests in Tokyo will have been lifted. It will be a long time until treatment or vaccination is available, so we must learn to live with the coronavirus and maintain the necessary precautions to prevent a second wave.”

For the rest of Japan, it expects to move into phase two of its recovery plan on June 19, which will allow outdoor concerts to increase their capacities from 200 to 1,000 attendees, before jumping up to 5,000, from July 10.

Venues in Japan are still being advised to operate at no more than 50 per cent of their usual capacity while outdoor events are being encouraged to enforce two-metre distances between concert-goers and staff “if possible.”

Naoki Tsukushi, director and senior stadium analyst for The Good Bankers, told TheTicketingBusiness that even though Tokyo has moved into the first phase of the third step, concerns remain about the potential impact of a rise in infections.

Tsukushi added: “People are still being cautious about where they go/visit etc, knowing the restrictions could easily come back in the next few days as we approach the end of two-week incubation period since the national government declared the end to its state of emergency on June 1.”

Koike said Tokyo would gradually lift measures if the weekly average of daily cases remained under 20, untraceable cases accounted for less than half of those infections and new cases were less than the week prior.

However, on Thursday Tokyo confirmed 22 new cases and 25 today, despite the three days prior falling below the threshold.

The potential for a resurgence of COVID-19 is still in the minds of businesses and locals as cities throughout Japan and beyond as society slowly begins to reopen.

Events scheduled to take place in Japan in the coming weeks include the start of the NPB professional baseball season on June 19, the start of the J-League’s second and third divisions from June 27 and division one from July 4.

The Tokyo Governor said she would consider reissuing business closure requests if average new cases exceeded 50, more than half were untraceable or new infections doubled in a week.

Tsukushi told TheTicketingBusiness: “As you can see, the number of patients in Tokyo are now increasing again, as expected after the government’s ending of the state of emergency roughly two weeks ago. People here in Japan are not fooled to get excited just yet and they are fully aware that it’s not over at all.”

Image: Basile Morin