A government subcommittee has agreed that the country’s Go To Eat campaign for supporting eateries should be limited only to prefectures where the severity of the coronavirus pandemic is low.

Issuing discount meal coupons under the campaign should be allowed only in areas where the state of the pandemic is assessed as stage 1 or 2, the subcommittee said Friday.

If the severity of the pandemic worsens after the campaign starts, measures — including its suspension — should be considered, Shigeru Omi, head of the subcommittee, said at a news conference.

The government decides the stage, from 1 to 4 for each prefecture, based on factors such as the number of new patients per 100,000 residents and the occupancy rate of patients at hospitals.

While there is no specific criteria to define the stages, the government says stage 1 occurs when patients are sporadically infected. This rises to stage 2 when there is a gradual increase in the number of patients. Stage 3 is when patients increase rapidly, and 4 when patients increase explosively.

The subcommittee also called on coronavirus prevention measures to be put into place under the campaign.

“The campaign will be launched in stages starting in the middle or late September,” economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

The subcommittee recently agreed to put priority on vaccinating medical workers, elderly people and those with underlying diseases first once a coronavirus vaccine becomes available. On Friday, it did not agree on a detailed priority list.

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