Japan Extends COVID-19 State of Emergency Until May 31
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared on Friday that the current new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures is being extended until the end of May, and that Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures will also be under a state of emergency starting May 12. The extended state of emergency will cover 6 of Japan's 13 most populous prefectures, with 43 million people or one-third of Japan's population.
Under the current state of emergency, the government asked large department stores and shopping centers to close (except those offering daily essentials), and events to have no in-person audiences. Under the new extension, the government will ask large department stores and shopping centers to close by 8:00 p.m. instead of closing altogether, and events to have no more than 5,000 attendees and end by 9:00 p.m..
The Osaka prefectural government asked for an extension of the state of emergency earlier this week, after reporting heavy strain in its hospital system. Economy Minister and COVID-19 government response head Yasutoshi Nishimura underlined the "extremely critical situation" in Osaka, warning that hospital bed occupancy in Tokyo might mirror the critical state in Osaka over the next two weeks unless infection rate is slowed. Japan has already recorded 1,131 severe cases of COVID-19, a record high for the country.
The Japanese government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures on April 23, which was slated to lift on May 11. The state of emergency was intended to curb the amount of travel during the country's ongoing Golden Week holidays.
The Japanese government also declared on April 27 that the above four prefectures, as well as prefectures in a "quasi-state of emergency," will continue restricting events until June. (Previous restrictions were set to end by the end of April.)