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3 new coronavirus cases reported in Tokyo, lowest under emergency

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks at a coronavirus task force meeting in Tokyo on May 22, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo metropolitan government reported three new coronavirus infections in the capital on Friday, the lowest since Japan declared a state of emergency last month.

    The number of cases in the capital started to increase rapidly in late March and peaked in mid-April. The Tokyo government has confirmed more than 5,100 cases so far.

    The deaths of seven people were newly reported on the day, raising Tokyo's toll to 263.

    In a press conference, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike laid out a three-step plan to ease virus restrictions in the event the state of emergency is lifted in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures on Monday as being considered by the central government. The first step for reopening of facilities in stages may take effect at midnight that day.

    Museums, schools and sports facilities without spectator stands are among facilities which can reopen in the first step. Professional baseball and basketball matches without spectators, as well as small events with up to 50 people, can also be held.

    Restaurants and eateries, which have had operational hours reduced to close by 8 p.m., will be able to stay open until 10 p.m.

    "In order to return to a state of regularity as soon as possible, it's necessary to devise a road map so society can live a 'new normal,' while preventing the spread of the virus and revitalizing economic and social activities," Koike said.

    She said schools will begin reopening for students one day a week, and gradually increase the number. They are also to utilize online classes.

    The second step of the plan can be implemented about two weeks after the first but can be brought forward depending on the number of confirmed virus cases.

    Facilities including karaoke bars and gyms, which have a history of cluster infections, will remain asked to be closed even in the final phase, and when they can restart operations will depend on policy by the central government.

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