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The governors of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo asked the central government Saturday to include their prefectures in the state of emergency that took effect a day earlier for the Tokyo region over the resurging coronavirus.

The three Kansai governors met online with Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister leading the government’s response to the pandemic.

Pedestrians in Osaka on Friday | KYODO
Pedestrians in Osaka on Friday | KYODO

The request for an expanded emergency comes after Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama began a one-month state of emergency on Friday.

The governors of Aichi and Gifu prefectures in central Japan as well as Tochigi, north of Tokyo, are also considering making similar requests, prefectural officials have said.

Also Saturday, the National Governors’ Association agreed to draft proposals on measures against the pandemic, asking the central government to swiftly expand the state of emergency if necessary to cover areas where infections are spreading rapidly.

The governors’ body also called for an urgent revision of a special measures law on pandemics to include penal provisions in order to make requests for business closures and shorter operating hours at bars and restaurants more effective.

The resurgence of the virus has been increasing the strain on the country’s medical system.

By declaring a state of emergency, the central government enables local authorities to urge people to stay home as much as possible and call on eateries to close earlier.

Gifu Prefecture issued its own state of emergency on Saturday, urging its residents to refrain from unnecessary outings after 8 p.m.. It asked restaurants that serve alcohol to close by 8 p.m.

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