TOKYO (JAPAN) – Japan will be moving forward with their plan to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo for a month, starting this Friday. The move comes after an advisory panel approved the plan. Apart from Tokyo, three neighbouring prefectures too will come under the emergency, in a bid to contain a surge in new COVID cases.
The proposal for an emergency declaration running from Jan. 8 to Feb. 7 was approved at a morning meeting, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. The restrictions focuses on measures to combat transmission at bars and restaurants, which was cited as high risk areas by the government .
Japan saw new daily infections top 6,000 for the first time on Wednesday. Positive tests are set to exceed 2,000 on Thursday in Tokyo, yet another record.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a news conference at 6 p.m. (0900 GMT) to formally announce the decision and curbs to be imposed in Tokyo and the neighbouring Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures. However, medical experts state that they fear the government’s plans might be inadequate.
With Japan preparing to host the Olympics, Suga has favoured limited restrictions. Government officials have been in talks with experts this week to assess steps to try to bring the surge under control with as little damage as possible to the economy.
The four prefectures has about 150,000 restaurants and bars. Economy Minister Nishimura said on Thursday that measures to be included in the state of emergency from Friday means restaurants and bars will be asked to close by 8 p.m. The minister has also requested residents to not venture out non-urgent reasons, and limiting attendance at sporting and other big events to 5,000 people.
Ahead of the declaration, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced on Thursday that upcoming exhibitions of the Olympics torch around the capital have been postponed “to reduce the flow of people and the further spread of COVID-19.”
“Depending on the way infections spread from here on, we may need to think about a state of emergency nationwide,” Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japan Medical Association, told a news conference on Wednesday.