Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo ask for state of emergency to be lifted this month
The governors of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures requested the central government on Tuesday to lift the state of emergency in their prefectures at the end of this month.
The emergency, a measure against the novel coronavirus pandemic, was declared in 11 prefectures and was extended in 10 of them through March 7.
Aichi Prefecture, where Nagoya is the largest city, is also hoping that the state of emergency will be lifted at the end of this month.
The central government will make a decision on Friday after hearing from experts.
Osaka Prefecture decided last Friday to make the request, and Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures decided Monday to follow suit.
Also on Monday during a press conference, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura expressed his intention to ask the central government to lift the state of emergency. Omura said he called Gifu Gov. Hajime Furuta to confirm the neighboring prefectures will take concerted action.
The central government views the situation in the three Kansai region prefectures and two Chubu region prefectures as improving in regards to providing medical care, such as occupancy rates of hospital beds.
“It would be no problem to lift the state of emergency,” a senior government official said regarding the five prefectures, “as long as the governors are fine with it.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with relevant Cabinet ministers, including Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalization and tasked with the coronavirus response, as early as Wednesday to discuss the requests from the governors. If they feel the requests have merit, the central government will seek opinions of an expert panel on Friday on whether the state of emergency can be lifted for those areas before making a formal decision at the pandemic task force later the same day.
The central government intends for the state of emergency to continue in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama through March 7 as planned, as it has not seen enough of a recovery in the medical care situation.
As for Fukuoka Prefecture, the government is carefully watching developments as the hospital bed occupancy rate stood at 52% as of Sunday, which falls into Stage 4, the worst in the central government’s index of the pandemic.