National

Aichi and Mie governors urge continued restraint on cross-prefectural travel

by Eric Johnston

Staff writer

The end of the national state of emergency for the coronavirus in Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo on Thursday and the possible lifting of it in greater Tokyo on Monday has two other prefectures between Kanto and Kansai asking residents to continue to refrain from unnecessary interprefectural travel.

“I want everyone to be strict about refraining from unnecessary travel back and forth to other prefectures,” Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura said Thursday. He added that people should take special care to avoid going to Kanto and Kansai, where there are higher numbers of infections.

Aichi Prefecture, home to auto giant Toyota Motor Corp., declared a local state of emergency in April, when it began asking residents to avoid nonessential travel. Nagoya, its capital, is about an hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo Station, and under an hour from Shin-Osaka Station on the fastest bullet trains.

While the national emergency was lifted for Aichi on May 14, Omura said he plans to keep the local one in place until the end of the month. Like other prefectures, however, Aichi has also been relaxing requests for local businesses to stay closed or shorten their hours. On Friday, it announced that businesses like bars, internet cafes and most sports facilities and game centers would not be asked to remain closed.

In adjacent Mie, Gov. Eikei Suzuki also issued a call for residents to refrain from traveling to Kansai, if they could help it. Osaka’s Namba Station is about an hour and a half by train from the city of Tsu.

“As Mie Prefecture has deep relations with all three Kansai prefectures where the national state of emergency has just been lifted, I want to see this as a good thing. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that the number of infections in those prefectures has gone to zero, and I want to continue to ask residents to not move across prefectural borders unnecessarily,” Suzuki said.

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura’s philosophy is to figure out ways to live with the coronavirus even if there are still some infections being reported. Suzuki, however, is taking a more cautious view.

“If new infections in Mie Prefecture pop up now, after 27 days of no infections, it’s not good for either Mie or Japan as a whole,” he said Thursday.

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