Infection resurgence keeps event caps on in Japan

Osaka's Umeda district cityscape at twilight

Japan has postponed its plan to further relax event attendance limits amid the rapid uptick of Covid-19 infections across the country, delivering another blow to the battered hospitality and business events industry.

The government had initially scheduled to lift its current 5,000 pax cap on events on August 1, giving organisers leeway to fill their venues “up to about half capacity”.

Covid-19 cases are rising again in Japan, forcing the government to halt plans on restoring MICE activities; Osaka pictured

Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura made the announcement at a press conference in Tokyo on July 22, pointing to the recent record spikes in Covid-19 cases in the capital and other major urban areas, including Osaka, Aichi and Fukuoka.

On the same day, Japan reported a new single-day record of 795 new Covid-19 cases, exceeding the previous high set in April. Osaka Prefecture confirmed 121 cases, while Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures recorded 64 and 61 cases respectively.

The current limit on event capacity will stay in place until the end of August, according to Nishimura. It is the last restriction in the government’s progressive plan to restore normalcy to Japan’s damaged events industry.

On July 10, Japan eased capacity restrictions for outdoor sporting, concert and other events to a maximum of 5,000 pax from the previous 1,000, provided the number of attendees is within 50 per cent of the venue’s maximum capacity.

Organisers of indoor events, meanwhile, must keep capacity to 50 per cent or below the usual level.

The steps are in line with the government’s request that people avoid the three C’s of closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Venues have been quick to realign to the July 10 guidance, providing event organisers with revised capacity information for indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as information on new health and safety measures for events.

Among those to roll out new event manifestos is Andaz Tokyo, a central venue popular for business meetings and weddings.

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