Osaka – Despite the government having just declared that the state of emergency will be extended until March 7 for 10 prefectures, some governors may ask for it to be lifted well before then.
“The state of emergency isn’t something that is just continued lazily. If there is a consistent effect, it’s important that it be lifted in stages,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told a meeting of the National Governors’ Association on Saturday.
Yoshimura is likely to decide as early as Tuesday whether to ask the central government to cancel the state of emergency for Osaka. He said earlier he would hold a meeting of health experts that day, provided all prefectural standards for requesting an end to the emergency are met by then.
A total of 188 new cases were reported in Osaka Prefecture on Saturday. One of Osaka’s standards for asking the central government to lift the state of emergency for the prefecture is for the daily average of new cases in the past seven days to stay below 300 for a week. The average as of Saturday was 207, staying below 300 for five consecutive days.
The other criterion is to have no more than 60% of available hospital beds for seriously ill patients filled for a week. That figure was 62.3% as of Saturday.
At Saturday’s meeting, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura said, “The number of cases (in Aichi) was decreasing, even before the extension period begins. The lifting of the state of emergency is in sight.”
With two coronavirus-related laws that levy fines on businesses and people who refuse to cooperate under a state of emergency set to go into effect Saturday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may agree to end the state of emergency in some areas before then.
Following the government’s decision to extend the state of emergency, Yoshimura agreed with Kyoto Gov. Takatoshi Nishiwaki and Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido to make any moves in tandem with regards to the state of emergency.
But neither Nishiwaki nor Ido were sure if they could join Osaka in asking for the emergency to be lifted since the two prefectures have yet to meet their own goals.
“The three prefectures are talking, but I can’t say whether or not we will definitely be in agreement,” Nishiwaki said Saturday.
Noting that Hyogo still has a large number of people self-isolating at home or being cared for in hospitals, Ido said, “We are not at all in a situation” to ask for the state of emergency to be lifted.
Under central government standards, Tokyo must get down to 500 new cases a day on average, over a one week period, before the state of emergency can be lifted. The average daily figure over the seven days up to Saturday was 601.1. Neighboring Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures have given no clear indication as to whether they might request an end to the state of emergency.
The Saturday meeting of the National Governors’ Association also included discussions on the new laws that go into effect Saturday.
While the association had called for more legal autonomy to crack down on those who refuse to cooperate, they called for caution in deciding whether or not to fine offenders.
“The penalties are the last method of deterrent,” said Tokushima Gov. and National Governors’ Association Chairman Kamon Iizumi.
Information from Kyodo added
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.
Your news needs your support
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.