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Japan extends emergency period through June 20


The government announced its decision on Friday to extend the state of emergency for nine prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka through June 20.

The decision was reached on Friday evening at a meeting of the government’s COVID-19 task force led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, after the subcommittee on basic coronavirus measures approved the decision in a morning meeting.

“Areas subject to the state of emergency have remained in Stage 4,” Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus measures, said at the subcommittee meeting, referring to the most serious level. “The number of seriously ill patients has been around 1,400 nationwide. The health care system is facing a severe situation.”

The state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Kyoto and Okayama was scheduled to end May 31.

The extension to June 20 matches the scheduled end date for Okinawa Prefecture, which was added to the state of emergency list on Sunday.

For Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, it is the second extension of the current state of emergency declared on April 25.

Under an extended state of emergency, current COVID-19 measures will remain in effect in these areas. Closure requests will continue to be made for food service businesses that offer alcohol or karaoke.

The central government intends to continue asking large commercial facilities, such as department stores, to close by 8 p.m. while allowing prefectural governors to request businesses to close at their discretion.

The government also plans to strengthen the current testing system for the virus. Its revised basic response measures include the securing of a daily capacity of up to about 360,000 PCR tests. To prevent infections among young people, which now account for more than half the new infection cases, up to about 800,000 simple kits for antigen testing are planned to be newly distributed to universities, high schools and other such institutions.

The government presented to the subcommittee a proposal to extend the application of priority measures for the prefectures of Chiba, Gifu, Kanagawa, Mie and Saitama from May 31 to June 20.

Tokyo to ease some requests

The Tokyo metropolitan government is making arrangements to ease its own measures with an eye to allowing department stores and other large commercial facilities in the capital to open on weekdays with shortened business hours.

The metropolitan government intends to continue requesting such facilities to close on weekends.

Tokyo is also considering allowing movie theaters and art museums, which are currently being asked to close, to open under certain conditions, such as limiting the number of visitors and shortening operation hours, according to metropolitan government officials.

However, there are some cautious opinions about easing the measures.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was expected to make a decision later Friday.

Published : May 29, 2021

By : The Japan News/ANN