Japan Declares New COVID-19 State of Emergency in 4 Prefectures
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a new state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures on Friday, after the government's expert panel approved a plan earlier in the day. The new state of emergency will last from Sunday, April 25 to Tuesday, May 11 (unless it is extended further). The government is also putting stricter counter-measures in place in Ehime prefecture.
The new state of emergency will have the following restrictions:
- The government will ask establishments that offer alcoholic drinks or karaoke to close
- The government will ask other dining establishments to close before 8:00 p.m. every day
- The government will ask commercial facilities larger than 1,000 square meters (about 10,800 square feet) to close (except those offering daily essentials)
- The government will ask events organizers to have no in-person audiences
- Mass transportation services will end earlier on weekdays and run less frequently during weekends and holidays
- The government will ask people to refrain from nonessential outings or traveling between prefectures
The daily reported case tally in Tokyo reached 861 on Thursday, its highest tally since January 29 during the second state of emergency. Osaka prefecture recorded 1,167 new cases on Thursday. Tokyo and Osaka reported another 759 and 1,162 cases, respectively, on Friday. Osaka has exceeded 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days.
The new state of emergency aims to significantly reduce the number of people out during the upcoming "Golden Week" holidays. (This year's string of Golden Week holidays runs from April 29 to May 5, although many people take the entire work week off before or after the official holidays.) Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike reported that the metropolis is investigating whether to ask facilities to turn off lights (excluding streetlights) after 8:00 p.m., to encourage people to return home instead of loitering during the evenings.
The staff of the Eiga Crayon Shin-chan Nazo Meki! Hana no Tenkasu Gakuen and Earwig and the Witch anime films have delayed their openings this Friday and next Thursday, respectively. The TOHO CINEMAS chain already announced on Tuesday that it is only selling tickets on the same day, and not in advance, as of Friday. Its Roppongi Hills theater is only open until 8:00 p.m., and the chain is limiting the operating hours of concession stands in theaters in other locations. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are considering honoring the government's requests under the state of emergency.
The Japanese government declared the previous state of emergency in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba on January 8. The Japanese government then expanded the state of emergency to seven more prefectures on January 13. The state of emergency was planned to end on February 7, but was extended until March 7 in Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Aichi, Fukuoka, Gifu, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba prefectures.The state of emergency covered eight of Japan's 10 most populous prefectures and over half of the nation's population.
Japan started its COVID-19 vaccination plan on February 17, prioritizing medical workers. The second phase of the plan started on April 12 for elderly people.