TOKYO (JAPAN) – In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a meeting of ruling party executives that he would declare a state of emergency for the three western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, on Tuesday.
It was only last week that Suga declared a one-month state of emergencyin Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures. The emergency is said to last till Feb7.
But the number of coronavirus cases has also climbed in the west, prompting Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo to seek a state of emergency too. The government is finalising plans to do so on Wednesday, and could also consider adding the central prefectures of Aichi – home to Toyota Motor Corp – and Gifu, said a government sources.
With this nearly half of Japan will be under a state of emergency.
Under Japanese law, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency, which gives local authorities the legal basis to ask residents and businesses to restrict movements and work.
Local authorities are asking residents of the Tokyo area to stay in as much as possible and for bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m.
After noticing that there is hardly any decrease in daytime outings over the three-day weekend even under the state of emergency, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura tweeted ,”Please refrain from going out not only at night but also during the day,”
Like many countries, Japan is struggling to balance containing the spread of the virus with limiting damage to the economy, the world’s third-largest.
Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday the government would offer one-off payouts of up to 400,000 yen ($3,835) to businesses supporting restaurants and bars that comply with shortened hours, such as companies that supply disposable chopsticks and wet towels. The restaurants themselves will see maximum compensation rise by 50%, Suga has said.
Daily coronavirus cases hit a record 7,882 last Friday, bringing the total to nearly 300,000, according to public broadcaster NHK.