• Kyodo

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People expressed concern Friday after the government said it plans to expand the coronavirus state of emergency beyond Tokyo and the Kansai region and extend it to May 31, while some were skeptical about whether the measures can bring down the number of infections.

“I wonder if it is worth issuing an (emergency) declaration now,” said Tsukasa Ishii, who was on the way to work in Fukuoka Prefecture, which is set to be added to the emergency along with Aichi Prefecture from Wednesday.

As restaurants and bars will be prohibited from serving alcohol and must close by 8 p.m. under the emergency, the 33-year-old also said, “I feel sorry for the eateries.”

Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures were placed under the nation’s third state of emergency on April 25. The measures allow local authorities to take stronger anti-virus measures, such as asking department stores to close temporarily.

In Nagoya, 58-year-old Nobuya Matsuyama said: “Looking at the flow of people now, it was difficult to suppress infections under less strict measures. I have the impression that response measures are falling behind.”

A 24-year-old woman from Nagoya who works at an apparel store said, “I lack a sense of crisis compared with last time” when the emergency was declared in January, adding, “I might go out once in a while.”

At the same time, she also said, “I’m worried that my income might be reduced if the store I work at is closed temporarily.”

Meanwhile, some workers expressed relief, as the government plans to ease some measures including allowing department stores to reopen.

“If we can open the store even for shorter operating hours, we can devise ways to run the business and secure sales,” an official of a department store in Tokyo said.

But the official also wondered if the store can really be reopened with shortened business hours, as it will be local governments that decide on the specific requests that businesses need to adhere to.

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