Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Sunday asked residents of Tokyo and other areas under a fresh coronavirus state of emergency to stay home “more thoroughly” than they did under the first emergency in spring last year.
At a news conference, Nishimura, who leads the government’s response to the epidemic, said that he wants residents of the Japanese capital and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo to avoid going out for nonessential reasons.
The fresh coronavirus emergency, the third of the kind in Japan, took effect on Sunday in the four prefectures, mainly covering the Golden Week holiday period, which is set to start soon.
During the first emergency, which was in place between April and May last year, the government asked people to reduce opportunities for contact with others by 80%. The first emergency initially targeted Tokyo and six other prefectures and was then expanded to cover all 40 other prefectures of the country as well.
Nishimura specifically asked residents of the four prefectures under the ongoing emergency to reduce outings, such as for shopping, to a minimum and refrain from traveling outside the prefectures. Residents of other parts of the country were urged not to travel to the four prefectures.
The minister called on businesses to reduce the number of workers in offices by 70%, partly by promoting remote work.
As for lifting the latest state of emergency, which is slated to run for 17 days until May 11, Nishimura said that the country’s four-tier coronavirus alert system needs to improve to the Stage 3 level, the second-worst level.
It is particularly important for hospital bed availability to improve, he said.
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.