Japan gov't expands state of emergency from Tokyo to other prefectures

Japanese government declared Friday to expand the COVID-19 state of emergency to Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, as well as the western prefecture of Osaka.

Japan declared Friday to expand the COVID-19 state of emergency to Osaka and three prefectures neighboring Tokyo, as a record high of COVID-19 cases have raised fears that the country's medical system could collapse amid the Tokyo Olympics.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government will add Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Osaka prefectures to areas under the emergency, which already covers Tokyo and Okinawa, from next Monday through August 31, the government said.

The COVID-19 emergency state previously declared for Tokyo and Okinawa through August 22 will now be extended until the end of the month as well. The emergency period started last week, covering the ongoing Olympic Games and will also partly overlap with the Paralympics kicking off on August 24.

Eateries and bars offering liquor or providing karaoke services are requested to shut under the state of emergency, while the government pays out money for compliance. Those not serving alcohol are asked to close at 8 pm local time.

"Novel coronavirus infections are spreading in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as the Kansai region (in western Japan) at an unprecedented speed," Suga said at the end of a task force meeting, after the emergency state expansion received approval from experts in infectious diseases and other fields earlier in the day.

The government is also going to put five prefectures – Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka – under a quasi-state of emergency, carrying fewer restrictions on business activity than the state of emergency, from Monday to the end of August.

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