Covid19 : Japan to expand state of emergency
Japan is set to expand a state of emergency to eight more prefectures, taking the total to 21, the minister in charge of coronavirus countermeasures said on Wednesday, as a surge in Covid-19 cases overwhelms its hospitals.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the expansion, which would cover almost half the country’s 47 prefectures, was approved by a panel of external experts. It is expected to be formally approved at a government task force meeting later on Wednesday.
The quasi-state of emergency, currently covering 16 prefectures, allows governors to place business restrictions on specific areas rather than entire prefectures. Twelve areas will be covered after some are added to the full state of emergency.
The envisaged expansion will mean that from Friday, over 70 percent of Japan’s 47 prefectures will be covered by some form of emergency to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under the state of emergency, restaurants are asked not to serve alcohol or offer karaoke, and instructed to close by 8 p.m. Major commercial facilities including department stores and shopping malls are asked to limit the number of customers allowed in at the same time.
A top adviser to the government on the virus told lawmakers Wednesday that municipalities should be able to consider extending the summer vacation for school children to prevent infections.
The government has so far ruled out blanket school closures, and is proceeding with a vaccination programme that began slowly but has picked up speed, with around 40 percent of the population now fully inoculated.