Japan to extend COVID-19 emergency in Tokyo, Osaka area
Written by tokyoclub on May 6, 2021
BREAKING NEWS: COVID-19 emergency to be expanded to Aichi, Fukuoka: sources
BREAKING NEWS: Japan to extend COVID emergency until end of May: sources
BREAKING NEWS: Suga says to decide details of COVID emergency extension on Fri.
TOKYO – The Japanese government plans to extend the ongoing state of emergency in Tokyo and the Osaka area, having deemed more time is needed to bring down coronavirus cases and ease the strain on hospitals, senior officials said Thursday.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to finalize the decision on Friday, with an extension of two weeks to one month under consideration, the officials said under condition of anonymity.
People wearing face masks walk in front of Tokyo Station amid the coronavirus pandemic during the morning commute on May 6, 2021, the first weekday after the end of the Golden Week holiday period in Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
The state of emergency, which entails such anti-virus measures as banning restaurants from serving alcohol with fines for noncompliance and asking department stores and movie theaters to close, had been set to end next Tuesday in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told reporters Thursday the situation has not improved enough to lift the restrictions, warning about the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants.
She and her counterparts in neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures agreed in a virtual meeting to ask the central government to continue the measures until the end of May.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks to reporters in Tokyo on May 6, 2021. (Kyodo)
Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures also plan to request that the government extend the state of emergency.
Suga discussed the situation with members of his Cabinet, including health minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of Japan’s COVID-19 response.
“At the very least, an extension for Osaka is unavoidable because it is struggling to free up hospital beds” for COVID-19 patients, said one official at the prime minister’s office.
On Wednesday, Suga said he will decide whether to extend the state of emergency within the week after soliciting advice from health experts.
He stressed the current measures, which took effect on April 25 and were touted as “short and intensive” steps targeting the Golden Week holiday, have successfully reduced the number of people out and about.
Tokyo, set to host the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in less than three months, reported 591 new infections on Thursday. That was a 44 percent decline from last Saturday, though the fall could have been caused by some hospitals closing or running in a reduced capacity during the weeklong break.
Hyogo reported 281 new cases on Thursday.
Koike on Wednesday urged people to continue avoiding contact with others by working from home, saying the number of daily consultations regarding high fever rose to 2,500 the previous day, hitting the same level as the year-end and New Year period when the country was experiencing its third wave of coronavirus infections.
The government is also set to decide whether to extend and expand the quasi-state of emergency currently covering seven prefectures — Miyagi, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Ehime and Okinawa — beyond next Tuesday, the officials said.
Six others — Hokkaido, Ibaraki, Gifu, Mie, Tokushima and Fukuoka — have asked for anti-virus measures such as requests for restaurants and bars to close early in targeted areas under the quasi-state of emergency, which entails less strict steps than those under the emergency.