The government is asking 13 prefectures under its special coronavirus alert to continue efforts to reduce interpersonal contact by 80 percent.

The government is concerned about the possibility of residents in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Gifu, Aichi and Kyoto — letting their guard down on social distancing amid the pandemic.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, health minister Katsunobu Kato and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga met at the Prime Minister’s Office to examine the current situation.

After the meeting, Nishimura told a news conference that foot traffic in downtown areas in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka before the Golden Week holidays was down 80 to 90 percent from normal. According to latest data, however, it is now down only 60 to 70 percent, he said.

Nishimura said: “Citizens may be lowering their guard. We want people in the 13 prefectures to continue to prevent the efforts made so far from coming to nothing.”

“Moves to reactivate economic activities are seen in the remaining 34 prefectures, and I’m worried that this may make people in the 13 prefectures increasingly think that it’s OK for them to follow suit,” he said.

Also on Saturday, the government held the first meeting of a panel working on a smartphone app that informs users they had close contact with someone infected with the coronavirus.

Participants agreed that data on such contact should be stored in each user’s smartphone to protect their privacy.


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