Osaka Prefecture and three prefectures in the Tokyo metropolitan area entered a COVID-19 state of emergency Aug. 2 due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases, joining the capital and Okinawa, amid fears of a medical system collapse during the Tokyo Olympics.
The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has added Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Osaka prefectures to areas under the emergency from Aug. 2 through Aug. 31. The emergency period in Tokyo and Okinawa was also extended to the end of the month from the initially planned Aug. 22.
The government is planning to present a roadmap for easing restrictions with respect to the progress of inoculation, but the end of the epidemic in Japan is not in sight yet.
Establishments serving alcohol or offering karaoke services in the six prefectures under the emergency are asked to suspend their business during the period, with the government providing money for compliance. Those not serving liquor are asked to close at 8 p.m.
A quasi-state of emergency, which has fewer restrictions on businesses than the state of emergency, was imposed on parts of five prefectures: Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
The surge in infections comes amid the spread of the virus’s highly contagious delta variant, with the increase becoming particularly notable after a four-day weekend last month and fueling worries about the strain on Japan’s health care system. (Kyodo)