Japan will halt implementation of a government system combining COVID-19 vaccination and testing in a bid to restart economic activities in the wake of breakthrough infections, as the highly contagious Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.
Restrictions for purposes such as dining are eased under the system that checks whether visitors have been vaccinated twice or have proof of having tested negative for the virus. A spectator attendance limit for large-scale events such as concerts is also eased under the scheme.
It would apply even when areas are placed under a full-fledged state of emergency or a quasi-state of emergency, as a way to curbing the spread of the virus and normalize economic activities.
The government is considering placing Tokyo and 10 prefectures under a COVID quasi-state of emergency, and plans to recommend the measure on the package to a government advisory panel on the COVID-19 response as early as Wednesday, according to the sources.
Prefectural governors and health experts have been seeking a review of the policy given the transmissibility of the disease.
While the government is also considering maintaining the program under certain conditions such as people having booster shots, it has decided to put a halt to the program for the time being, the sources added.