Major contractors Kajima Corp., Obayashi Corp. and Taisei Corp.said Friday they plan to halt construction nationwide through early May in response to the expanded state of emergency called over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcements came a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expanded the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures to the entire nation.

The decision could have a severe impact on regional economies and lead to significant job losses in the industry.

Kajima and Obayashi plan to halt work through May 6 and Taisei through May 10. The three will first seek approval from their contractees and business partners.

Kajima, which has about 700 construction sites across the country, said some projects may go ahead as usual if they are urgent.

Shimizu Corp., another leading contractor, has said it will halt projects in 13 prefectures where infections have climbed rapidly, including Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa.

Shimizu and Obayashi have seen some of their workers test positive for the coronavirus.