• Jiji


The serving of alcoholic drinks at eating and drinking establishments is likely to be suspended under a new COVID-19 state of emergency set to be declared for Tokyo and three western prefectures, it was learned Thursday.

The possible suspension is among measures being considered by the Japanese government and the governments of Tokyo and the three prefectures — Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, informed sources said.

They are also looking at possible closure requests for large commercial facilities, such as department stores, shopping malls and theme parks, with a view to curbing crowds during the Golden Week holiday period from next week to early May. Movie theaters may be asked to shorten operating hours, while authorities are expected to request eating and drinking establishments to close by 8 p.m., according to the sources.

The existing program to compensate restaurants and bars for meeting requests to cut opening hours is expected to be expanded to support businesses to be affected by new measures under the state of emergency over the novel coronavirus.

The central government is slated to decide the declaration of the state of emergency at Friday’s meeting of its COVID-19 response headquarters.

The state of emergency is now expected to be imposed from Sunday to May 11. Some in the government argued that the period would be too short and called for sustaining the state of emergency for around three weeks.

“We’re asking the government to implement a state of emergency from this weekend,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of related ministers Thursday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stressed his administration’s resolve to curb infections by taking countermeasures “intensively during Golden Week.”

Asked about the effects of pre-emergency measures currently implemented in Tokyo, Osaka and some other prefectures, Suga said the government has yet to review the measures.

Under the new state of emergency, schools will not be asked to shut down but will be urged to avoid crowds through such measures as staggered arrivals of students. Publicly run museums are expected to be closed.

Separately, the national government is slated to decide on Friday to add the western prefecture of Ehime to the list of areas in the pre-emergency stage.

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