Tokyo to further ease coronavirus curbs

A special air force flyover has saluted Tokyo medical workers who are on the coronavirus frontline.
A special air force flyover has saluted Tokyo medical workers who are on the coronavirus frontline.

Curbs in Japan's capital of Tokyo to contain coronavirus are to be eased further from Monday, Governor Yuriko Koike says, citing the recommendation of an advisory panel.

Cram schools, gyms, and theatres are among the facilities to be allowed to reopen in a phased relaxation process, Koike told a media conference on Friday.

The city can "move to the next step of the phased easing of curbs, as long as Tokyo takes the necessary precautions to contain the spread of the virus", she quoted the panel as having said.

Japan lifted its state of emergency for Tokyo this week after a drop in daily infections. The country has recorded about 17,000 infections and some 900 deaths from the virus.

The Japanese air force's aerobatic demonstration squadron, Blue Impulse, flew over central Tokyo on Friday in a salute to medical workers on the frontline against the pandemic.

As a team of six T-4 training jets streaked across a clear blue sky shortly after noon, doctors and nurses on hospital rooftops waved and held up mobile phones to take photos of the passing planes.

"We have been working under strain for the past four months ... I heard them (medical workers) saying the demonstration lifted their spirits," said Shuichi Mikami, a spokesman for Tokyo's Ebara Hospital.

"A lot of people, including medical workers, are working hard to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We would like to pay our respect and express our appreciation," Defence Minister Taro Kono said ahead of the flight.

Australian Associated Press