On Thursday, the Japanese government formally extended the COVID-19 state of emergency for 19 areas, including Tokyo, till Sept. 30.
The state of emergency for prefectures of Miyagi and Okayama will be replaced by a quasi-state of emergency, while the remaining will still be under the strict restrictions of a state of emergency.
Prefectures of Toyama, Yamanashi, Ehime, Kochi, Saga, Nagasaki, the six of 12 prefectures under quasi-state of emergency currently, will be lifted from the curb, but the other six will remain under restrictions until Sept. 30. The current state of emergency had been set to end on Sunday.
Within the framework of authorities’ latest measures to fight the virus, 19 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka will be under a state of emergency, and eight prefectures will be under the quasi-state of emergency.
In this manner, people are urged to avoid crowded areas and restaurants are asked to refrain from serving alcohol and close at 8:00 p.m. local time, while the government would provide money for compliance.
Moreover, Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of Japan’s COVID-19 response, said the medical systems are still in a “severe situation,” and thorough anti-virus measures are still needed as there could be a large influx of tourists on the national holidays in late September.
He also affirmed that the government will reconsider its restrictions for overseas travelers in response to a request by the Japan Business Federation, Japan’s largest business lobby.
The minister pointed out that the government is making final arrangements of a plan for easing curbs once the majority of people here are vaccinated.
The Japanese government’s COVID-19 advisory panel said Wednesday the state of emergency should only be lifted if bed occupancy rates in hospitals decline to below 50 percent and patients with severe to moderate symptoms are on a downward trend.