Japan To Test Anti-Virus Steps For Big Events At Near-Full Stadium

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Japan will test measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus at events with large numbers of spectators in a trial late this month in a nearly-packed baseball stadium in Yokohama, officials said Thursday.

The three-day trial from Oct. 30 comes as the government considers whether to relax current limits on the number of people allowed to attend sporting and other big events.

Japan last month raised the limit to 10,000 from 5,000, but retained a ceiling of 50 percent of a venue's capacity for events with over 10,000 spectators, such as professional baseball games, effective through the end of November.

Holding the trial in Yokohama Stadium was approved by a government subcommittee on Thursday, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the fight against the virus, told reporters.
The 34,000-capacity stadium near Tokyo is to be the main venue for baseball and softball events for the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer.

The trial will be conducted by the Kanagawa prefectural and Yokohama city governments, as well as by major mobile game developer DeNA Co., whose group operates the stadium as the base of its professional baseball team, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

Regular games will be played during the three-day period, with the stadium filled to 80% of capacity. Officials said they will look into the flow and density of people entering the roofless facility, as well as the percentage of spectators wearing masks, using high-precision cameras.

While the limits on mass spectator events have been kept in place, venues for relatively small events deemed to have lower infection risk, such as classical music concert halls and movie theaters that ban food, are allowed to operate at full capacity.

During the subcommittee meeting, the education ministry meanwhile proposed allowing those who have had close contact with COVID-19 patients but nevertheless test negative and have no symptoms to sit next year's unified university entrance exams in separate rooms.

The education ministry is trying to make sure that entrance exams are conducted fairly for all students.

"We want (students) to take their body temperatures on a voluntary basis on the day of their exams, and to give up taking the tests and do them later if they have temperatures of 37.5 C or higher," Nishimura said.


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