Tokyo: The Japanese government is likely to extend Covid-19 emergency measures in place for Tokyo and eight other prefectures for another three weeks until June 20, local media reported on Friday.
The state of emergency currently in place has seen restrictions imposed on restaurants and bars, requiring them to close at 8 p.m., refrain from serving alcohol and urged people to work from home and refrain from crossing prefectural lines, reports Xinhua news agency. Large spectator events meanwhile, have had the number capped at 5,000 people or 50 percent of the venue’s capacity.
In Tokyo, movie theatres and department stores have also been requested to shutter operations. The extended restrictions will stay in place for Tokyo, Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures.
Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, the last region to be put under a state of emergency, will see the deadline expire as per the initial measure on June 20.
After consulting a panel of experts and formalizing the decision at a task force meeting Friday evening, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga started to explain the extension and the reasoning at a press conference. “On the whole, the situation is highly unpredictable,” Suga, following a meeting with his Cabinet, told reporters on Thursday.
The state of emergency in place in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo since April 25 was initially set to be lifted on May 11, but was extended and expanded to include Aichi and Fukuoka, then Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima, and finally Okinawa Prefecture.
Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie prefectures on Friday will also have quasi emergency virus measures extended to June 20, according to local media. Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto prefectures’ quasi emergency measures will be lifted on schedule on June 13.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is just one of a number of regional heads to request that the central government further extend the emergency virus period, with the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to start in just two months.
The Governors have voiced concerns that the decline in new infections has not been sufficient with hospitals in some regions almost hitting capacity as variants were wreaking havoc in Japan.
The Japanese government has also come under criticism for being the slowest among a number of advanced economies to roll-out its vaccination campaign and has succeeded in administering just one dose to just over 5 per cent of its population of 126 million.
Those having received a second dose comprise a bare 2 per cent of the population, according to government statistics. As of Friday, Japan’s overall Covid caseload and death toll stood at 729,853 and 12,601, respectively.