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Japan Considers Lifting State of Emergency in Tokyo Early Next Week

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Museums, theaters, most stores, theme parks can gradually open, but concert venues & large events are ruled out

Japan is considering lifting the state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area early next week. Tokyo officials reported three new cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday, which was the lowest daily number in the past two months.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said that the metropolis meets the government's criteria for lifting the state of emergency. Officials are monitoring the COVID-19 situation with seven indicators such as the number of new cases and rate of positive test results. The government's target for new infections is 0.5 or fewer per 100,000 people in one week. A cumulative total of 5,136 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo as of Friday.

The Tokyo government outlined a three-phase roadmap for reopening. In the first phase after the Japanese government lifts the state of the emergency, museums, sports facilities, schools, and similar facilities would start to open, but no seating for spectators would be allowed until the second phase. The government asked bars and other restaurants to close before 8:00 p.m. under the state of emergency, but would ask them to close before 10:00 p.m. after the state of the emergency ends.

After the government determines that the conditions are right, movie and performance theaters, tutoring and driving schools, meeting and exhibition halls, stores that offer non-essential goods and services, and similar facilities would reopen during the second phase. Then, arcades, amusement parks, pachinko parlors, manga cafés, shooting ranges, gambling venues, and similar facilities would reopen in the third phase. Also, the government would ask bars and other restaurants to close before midnight in the third phase.

The maximum number of attendees at events would be limited to 50 during phase 1, 100 in phase 2, and 1,000 in phase 3. The government specifically asks that live music venues, restaurants with entertainment (like night clubs), karaoke facilities, fitness gyms, and similar facilities with high risks of cluster infections to remain closed in any of the three phases.

The prefectures of Kanagawa and Hokkaido have not yet met the criteria for lifting the state of emergency. Tokyo's neighboring prefectures of Chiba and Saitama have already met the criteria. Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, and Hokkaido remain under a state of emergency as of Friday. The Japanese government announced on Thursday that it will lift the state of emergency early in the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo.

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka from April 7 to May 6. Kyoto Governor Takatoshi Nishiwaki asked the Japanese government on April 10 to add Kyoto to the state of emergency. Aichi Governor Hideaki Ōmura similarly asked the Japanese government on April 16 to add his prefecture to the list, and then independently declared a state of emergency on April 17. Hokkaido had lifted its own three-week state of emergency on March 19, only to declare a second state of emergency on April 12.

Abe then announced on April 16 that the national government expanded the state of emergency nationwide until May 6. As required by the newly enacted law that allowed for this declaration, Abe met with the government's COVID-19 task force of experts before formally announcing the expansion. The government later extended the state of emergency to May 31, but last week lifted it from 39 out of 47 prefectures, with Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Hyogo, and Hokkaido remaining in a state of emergency.

As of Friday, Japan has reported 16,543 cases of the virus (not including 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship), with 814 deaths (not including 13 deaths from the Diamond Princess cruise ship).

Sources: NHK World, NHK

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