Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency for 19 areas till Sept. 30
The Japanese government Thursday formally declared the extension of the COVID-19 state of emergency for 19 areas, including Tokyo, till September 30.
The current state of emergency had been set to end on Sunday.
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, while the other six will remain under restrictions until September 30.
In the latest edition of the anti-virus measures, 19 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka will be under a state of emergency, and eight prefectures will be under the quasi-state of emergency. All the measures are scheduled to be effective till September 30.
Under the state of emergency, people are urged to avoid crowded areas and restaurants are asked to refrain from serving alcohol and close at 8:00 pm local time, while the government would provide money for compliance.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of Japan's COVID-19 response, said at a meeting of experts that in some areas, 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 said the government will reconsider its restrictions for overseas travelers in response to a request by the Japan Business Federation, Japan's largest business lobby, and is making final arrangements of a plan for easing curbs once the majority of people here are vaccinated.
The Japanese government's COVID-19 advisery 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.
The panel also suggested utilizing a system to identify people with low risk of spreading the virus, such as those who are fully vaccinated or confirmed uninfected. It advocated the introduction of the system around November when all people who wish to receive jabs are expected to be fully inoculated.
The final draft of the plan, with the government eyeing performance from around November, includes allowing people to travel across prefectural borders and joining in large events such as concerts and sports games if they have received two shots of vaccines or provide negative test results.
According to the plan, eateries will also be able to sell alcohol as long as they are certified to prepare measures in place to prevent infections and people will be allowed to gather in larger groups at restaurants.