Japan expands state of emergency

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2021

"The emergency was just declared and what we should focus on is to make sure that restaurants are abiding by the request to operate until 8 p.m.", he said.

Concerning restaurants, he underlined the need to impose a penalty for operators that do not comply with authorities' request for temporary closure or for shorter operating hours.

A state of emergency was previously declared in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures in early April during Japan's first wave of infections and was expanded nationwide later that month.

Record numbers of restaurants declared bankruptcy in Japan in 2020, according to Tokyo Shoko Research, eclipsing the previous high caused by the March 2011 natural disaster and tsunami.

"A declaration of a state of emergency is a powerful means, based on the law, for tackling the spread of infections, but it also places big restrictions on people's lives", Suga told a news conference.

Despite the current surge in infections, Japan has reported far fewer infections than many countries of its size.

The week before, the Health Ministry was unable to secure beds for more than 1,700 infected people.

The newly declared prefectures, also including Tochigi to the north of Tokyo, Gifu in central Japan, Hyogo and Kyoto in the west, and Fukuoka to the southwest, will remain in the status through February 7.

Crowd sizes in resort and shopping areas in the Tokyo metropolitan area failed to shrink remarkably on January 9-11, the first holidays after the current emergency declaration, compared with holidays during the first state of emergency, data showed. He mostly limited his interventions to asking the public to take basic safety measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding drinking and dining in groups until mid-December, when he finally announced the suspension of a government-subsidized tourism campaign.

But it had to hit pause on the program late a year ago as COVID-19 cases soared.

A state of emergency was previously declared in Tokyo and six other prefectures on April 7 past year.

About 80 per cent said this year's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be cancelled or delayed.

"A very careful decision is therefore required of the government", he said.

Japan has repeatedly insisted it will hold the Games despite opinion polls showing a majority of respondents want them postponed again or cancelled.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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