Japan will lift the COVID-19 state of emergency this month.

According to Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan will lift a coronavirus state of emergency in all regions on Thursday as the number of new cases declines and the strain on the medical system eases.

The plan, which was approved by a government advisory panel, lifts Japan out of its state of emergency for the first time in nearly six months. After a government task force formalises the plan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a news conference at 7 p.m. (1000 GMT) to announce the decision.

However, Nishimura stated that some restrictions on eateries and large-scale events would remain in place for about a month in order to prevent a resurgence of cases.

“New cases will undoubtedly rise after the emergency state is lifted,” Nishimura, who also oversees Japan’s coronavirus response, said on Tuesday as the advisory panel began its meeting.

“We need to continue with the necessary measures to prevent a rebound,” he said, adding that if cases surged again, reinstatement of a more limited “quasi emergency” was possible.

Restaurants in areas under emergency curbs are now required to close by 8 p.m. and not serve alcohol.

Nishimura said the government would introduce a certification system whereby only approved restaurants could stay open until 9 p.m., although the ban on alcohol would be lifted everywhere unless prefectural governors objected.

Like many other countries, Japan had struggled to contain the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant – including through the Summer Olympic Games – keeping much of the country under emergency restrictions.

But new daily cases have steadily fallen over the past month, to 1,128 nationwide on Monday, according to the health minister, nearly halving from the 2,129 on Sunday and down from a daily high of about 25,000 infections at the peak.

Nearly 60% of the population is fully vaccinated and the government has said all those who want shots will have had them by November.

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