Japan expands state of emergency, public cools to Olympics

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2021

The special treatment will be halted until Feb 7, the last day of an ongoing state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and some other parts of Japan, Suga said at a press conference.

As the country has faced a third wave of coronavirus infections since November, Suga said on January 4 that the government was considering declaring a second state of emergency, without specifying a start date, duration or the areas covered.

"Beginning with Osaka, we'll look at the situation in prefectures where the situation is serious and, after consulting experts, promptly decide on (whether to declare) a state of emergency", Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government spokesperson, told reporters after the meeting.

The new prefectures which will remain under the state of emergency till February 7 were - Osaka, Aichi, Tochigi to the north of Tokyo, Gifu in central Japan, Hyogo and Kyoto in the west and Fukuoka to the southwest. Under the second state of emergency, declared nine months after the first, some service providers such as department stores and some entertainment facilities are also likely to cut their operating hours. He mostly limited his interventions to asking the public to take basic safety measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding drinking and dining in groups until mid-December, when he finally announced the suspension of a government-subsidized tourism campaign.

Unlike the earlier seven-week emergency Japan had in April and May a year ago, schools, gyms, theaters and shops will stay open.

Suga has insisted he is committed to holding the Games this summer, despite polls showing widespread public opposition.

Despite the current surge in infections, Japan has reported far fewer infections than many countries of its size.

Although - unlike most places in the world - the law does not now allow authorities to enforce these requests, the government is planning legislation to fine businesses that do not comply. Suga's government also plans to revise the infectious disease control law so it can penalize patients who defy self-isolation requirements, hospitalization or cooperation with health authorities, Japanese media reports say. Stage 4 means an explosive growth in new cases, while in stage 3 new cases are surging.

The four people are in their teens and 40s and were detected by the country's airport quarantine checks after arriving at Tokyo's Haneda Airport earlier this month.

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