The nation’s governors on Saturday asked the government to increase the amount of extraordinary grants made to prefectural governments for funding coronavirus countermeasures.
With infections returning with a vengeance, the National Governors’ Association filed the request to increase the grants, which stand at ¥3 trillion ($28 billion) so far, in an urgent proposal it adopted during an online meeting on Japan’s response to the pandemic.
The grants are being used to fund measures for improving medical capacity and supporting bars, restaurants and other businesses that suspend operations as requested to slow the spread of the virus.
Thirty-six of the 47 governors also exchanged views on six types of data to assess the spread of infections as shown by a government advisory panel the previous day, including hospital bed occupancy rates, ratio of positive tests, and the weekly infection tally per 100,000 people.
The other three coronavirus data discussed were number of patients per 100,000 people, weekly increase in infections and ratio of untraceable cases.
The 47 governors are being advised to use the data when deciding whether to beef up their response to the virus.
“Our opinions are reflected (in the six key indicators),” Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi, the president of the association, said in the videoconference.
In the proposal, the governors also called for a revision to the special law for combating the coronavirus so that authorities can impose penalties on business operators that fail to cooperate with business-suspension requests by local governments.
Separately, the governors advised that people reconsider making trips during the Bon summer holiday season around the middle of August amid concern that such mass travel will spread the virus further.
The governors also advised that people take sufficient measures such as washing hands frequently and avoiding dining out in large groups in case they decide to travel.
The governors and the central government, however, appear to be in conflict over how to approach Bon this year.
“This summer is different from usual summers,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said, alluding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Koike called on the public to make “online homecomings” to see their families over the internet or talk by phone.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said he is asking people to think twice about visiting the prefecture because infections are surging there.
The association is planning to release the opinions of all 47 governors on going home during Bon via its website.
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