With respect to the state of emergency issued in Tokyo and eight other prefectures a countermeasure against the new coronavirus, an advisory panel has approved the government’s policy on 28th May to extend the deadline to June 20, 2021. Okinawa’s declaration is due to expire on the same day.
Emergency declarations for Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka were initially set to end on 31st May, Monday.
Economy Minister and COVID-19 government response head Yasutoshi Nishimura, explained the plan at the panel meeting. He said the number of new infections remains high, and there are not enough hospital beds, especially in the Kansai region. The current state of emergency covers over 40% of Japan’s population.
He added that around 1400 patients are in serious conditions and the government must take the highest level of caution against the growing concerns about the further spread of the new Indian variant of the virus.
Nonetheless, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government still aim to to hold the Tokyo Olympics (delayed from last year) despite prohibition from majority of Japanese citizens and people outside Japan to cancel the games. A fully vaccinated Australian national softball team, consisting of 30 athletes and staff, will be the first Olympic athletes to arrive in Japan on June 1, setting up a training camp in Gunma.
In regard for this extension, the Japanese Government has switched from “request to closure” to “request for shortened working hours” for large-scale commercial facilities. The government has asked department stores and shopping centres (with a floor area of over 1000 square meters), pachinko parlors, arcades, and super public baths to close by 8 pm on weekdays, and to close entirely on weekends.
In addition, the government has also called for movie theaters, museums, and art galleries to have no more than 50% of the capacity of attendees, and maintain a closing time until 9:00 pm. However, if the infection situation worsens the government policies will return to strict measures.