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Eight more prefectures on Sunday were included in the COVID-19 quasi-emergency stage, with the measure set to last through Aug. 31.

The government will continue to call on people to take thorough measures against infections at a time when the number of new cases involving the highly contagious delta variant is surging.

Despite the government’s efforts to curb an explosive growth in new cases through state of emergency and quasi-emergency measures, there is no sign that the nation’s fifth wave of infections will be brought under control any time soon.

The quasi-emergency status allows prefectural governors to impose restrictions similar to but less strict than those introduced under an emergency declaration.

Under the quasi-emergency measure, the government will call on restaurants and bars in the newly added eight prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga and Kumamoto to close before 8 p.m. and stop serving alcoholic beverages in principle. It will allow establishments in areas that see new cases fall to provide alcoholic drinks until 7 p.m.

Businesses could be fined up to ¥200,000 if they do not comply with the governors’ requests.

Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures have been under the quasi-emergency state since earlier this month. The number of prefectures on the quasi-emergency list now stands at 13.

The government’s COVID-19 state of emergency covers Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka and Okinawa prefectures.

Some government officials and experts on infectious diseases have said the state of emergency should cover the whole country.

The government’s COVID-19 measures are widely believed to have hit a wall in the face of the spread of the delta variant, however, with nighttime pedestrian volumes in emergency-covered areas not decreasing as much as the government had hoped.

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