Japanese government spokesperson launches emergency COVID-19 extension
The main government spokesperson on Sunday raised the possibility of extending the coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and seven other prefectures beyond its expiration date of May 31.
As the number of new infections remains high in these areas, the emergency is expected to be largely extended, possibly until June 20.
The government âwill discuss the advisability of reducing (the state of emergency) to quasi-emergency measures, or of continuing the declaration for a certain time, then of bringing (the nine prefectures) back to a normal state if the situation is improving considerably, âChief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on an NHK broadcast.
In an effort to curb a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a state of emergency for the prefectures of Tokyo, Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka – with restaurants and bars closing at 8 p.m. and refraining from serving alcohol or offering karaoke.
On Sunday, the government officially placed Okinawa Prefecture on a state of emergency until June 20.
Kato said that in the event of an extension, a new deadline for the nine prefectures could coincide with the June 20 expiration date for Okinawa.
“We are supposed to see questions about setting different deadlines for each region, so we will look at them in groups,” he said.
Kato said the government would take into account the number of infections, occupancy rates of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and data regarding the movement of people when making decisions about the lifting of emergencies in the 10 prefectures.
Speaking during the same program, Keiichiro Kobayashi, a professor at Keio University and a member of a government advisory group on the response to COVID-19, warned the government not to rush to end the statements by emergency.
“If the government rushes to lift the statements, it would lead to a rebound (in the number of cases) and put a major drag on the economy,” Kobayashi said, urging the prime minister to think carefully about the timing to avoid a resurgence. in infections.
As of April 12, Okinawa had been in a pre-emergency phase, which allows local authorities to take anti-virus measures similar to those in an emergency. Governor Denny Tamaki has called for a state of emergency to cover his prefecture following a recent increase in the number of new infections.
The prefectural government is asking restaurants and bars offering alcoholic drinks and karaoke clubs to temporarily suspend their activities.
On Saturday, the central government ended the pre-emergency phase of the coronavirus for Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku earlier than the originally planned expiration date of May 31, based on a ruling that the situation of the prefecture had improved. The number of prefectures on the pre-emergency list now stands at eight.
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