Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency, months before delayed Olympics

TOKYO: Japan’s authorities authorised a month-long extension of its coronavirus state of emergency on Tuesday (Feb 2), lower than six months before the pandemic-postponed Olympic Games open in Tokyo.

“We have decided to extend the state of emergency until Mar 7,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated at a gathering of the duty drive guiding the federal government’s pandemic coverage.

The extension will apply to 10 of the 11 areas at present beneath the measure, together with higher Tokyo, which had been because of finish on Feb 7. It is not going to be prolonged in Tochigi, north of the capital, the place instances are judged to have dropped sufficiently.

“In prefectures where the virus situation improves, we will gradually lift the state of emergency, without having to wait for Mar 7,” Suga added.

The extension had been broadly anticipated, with authorities spokesman Katsunobu Kato telling reporters on Tuesday morning that “it is our understanding that continued vigilance is warranted for a while”.

Japan’s virus emergency is considerably looser than the lockdowns seen elsewhere on the earth, and primarily requires elevated teleworking and the closure of bars and eating places from 8pm.

Legislation at present working its manner via parliament would add enforcement measures together with fines for companies that don’t shut early.

But even the comparatively relaxed strategy seems to have yielded outcomes, with new infections dropping throughout the nation.

READ: EU COVID-19 vaccine curbs may delay Japan’s inoculation drive

Still, after going through criticism for its preliminary reluctance to impose the measure, the federal government has been cautious about lifting it too shortly.

“Since the declaration of the state of emergency last month, the number of coronavirus patients in Japan is declining and we can say this measure focusing on shorter hours at restaurants has clearly been effective,” Suga stated.

“We need to continue with this downward trend and decrease the number of hospitalised patients and patients in serious condition.”


Suga’s authorities resisted requires the emergency late final yr, regardless of an uptick in instances in December, apprehensive in regards to the influence on an financial system that solely simply exited recession.

The measure initially coated simply the higher Tokyo space, however was expanded a couple of week after it was first introduced as infections spiked in a number of components of the nation.

Japan’s coronavirus outbreak has been comparatively small nationwide, with round 5,800 deaths total.

But the nation’s healthcare system has change into more and more overburdened, and public help for each the preliminary imposition of the emergency, and Tuesday’s extension, is robust.

Suga’s authorities has seen approval scores plummet over its dealing with of the nation’s third wave of infections, which has elevated doubts in regards to the prospects for this summer season’s postponed Olympics.

READ: Games will go ahead regardless of pandemic situation: Tokyo Olympics president

Japan’s authorities, organisers and Olympic officers all insist the Games will go forward this summer season, and in depth virus countermeasures are being developed to maintain the occasion secure.

But public opinion stays opposed, with round 80 per cent of Japanese polled backing an extra postponement or outright cancellation.

Japan has tightened border restrictions throughout the state of emergency, ending exemptions for athletes.

That has compelled the cancellation and postponement of some sports activities occasions, together with the primary Olympic check occasion of 2021 – an artistic swimming qualifier that had been scheduled for March.

Earlier on Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori stated the Games would go forward “however the coronavirus (pandemic) evolves”.

“We must go beyond discussion about whether we will hold it or not. It’s about how we will do it. Let’s think about a new kind of Olympics on this occasion,” he added at a gathering of Olympic organisers and members of the Suga’s ruling social gathering.

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