• Jiji


The government is preparing to let the coronavirus pre-emergency designations for Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto prefectures expire on June 13 as scheduled, it was learned Friday.

Extensions are thought to be unnecessary if the current infection trends continues in the three prefectures, according to government sources.

A final decision is expected to be made by Thursday night, when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is slated to head to Britain for a meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven major industrial nations.

The government added the prefectures to the list of areas in the pre-emergency stage on May 16. Under the designation, which allows local authorities to take priority steps similar to those under a state of emergency, restaurants and bars have shortened their operating hours.

“There is a continued downward trend in the number of new infections” in the three prefectures, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a news conference Friday.

“If this stays as it is, (the pre-emergency designation) will be lifted (as scheduled),” a senior government official said.

The state of emergency for 10 prefectures, including Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido and Okinawa, and the pre-emergency status for Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie prefectures are slated to run until June 20.

Whether the state of emergency and pre-emergency status will be lifted or extended will be decided after Suga returns from Britain on June 14.

A senior government official said that the infection situation “is calming down” in prefectures such as Tokyo and Hokkaido, pointing to a possible lifting of the designations for these areas.

On the other hand, some in the government are proposing an extension of the state of emergency for Okinawa, where the virus situation is very severe.

“In Okinawa, the number of new infections is at an unprecedentedly high level and continues increasing rapidly,” Kato said.

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