Japan Extended the State of Emergency until 31 May


The prime minister said the number of new infections have slowed in recent days, but not enough to lift the state of emergency.

Japan's government prepared Monday to extend its nationwide state of emergency to the end of May as it braces for a lengthy battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency, which enables regional governors to instruct businesses to close down and ask people to stay at home as far as possible, was initially set to end May 6. While requests to refrain from going out for non-essential tasks and closure of businesses will remain in effect in the core affected prefectures like Tokyo, Chiba, and Osaka, the restrictions will be relaxed in less-affected prefectures.

"I must be candid and ask you to continue your efforts for some time", Abe said at a press conference after announcing the extension.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she had asked Abe's minister responsible for the virus outbreak Yasutoshi Nishimura about the government's plan for an extension.

Japan will move gradually to a framework that will combine prevention of the spread of infections with maintaining social and economic activities, he added.

The government has made a decision to allow the reopening of parks, museums, libraries and other public facilities in areas with high coronavirus counts and to ease its request for slashing social contact, a senior official said Sunday.

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Speaking in parliament, Nishimura said a government panel of medical experts will continue to monitor the infection situation in each area and make an assessment a week as well as two weeks from now.

Abe laid the groundwork for the extension last week, saying a return to normalcy would not come soon.

Shinzo Abe declared an initial state of emergency for Tokyo and six other regions on April 7, later expanding it to cover the entire country. Abe took the declaration nationwide on April 16, urging the public to avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

The current infection count in Japan as of the evening of May 4th is 15,253, with 559 recorded deaths. In the specified prefectures, the government is expected to seek a 70 percent cut in the number of commuting workers.

"At this point, the decrease in people infected is still not at a sufficient level".

They can also requisition medical supplies and food from companies that refuse to sell them and punish those that hoard or do not comply. There are no legal penalties for noncompliance.