The government has decided to lift the state of emergency declared to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in 39 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The easing of coronavirus restrictions could result in the gradual resumption of social and economic activities in Japan.
During a press conference at his office, Prime Minister Abe said that the nation is seeing progress with the reduction in new infection cases and with the expansion of testing infrastructure.
More populated areas will remain under emergency restrictions
Eight prefectures — Chiba, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Kanagawa, Kyoto, Osaka, Saitama, and Tokyo — will remain under the state of emergency restrictions due to higher infection numbers and fears that a spike in cases will put the health service in those more-populated areas under even more pressure.
In relation to the 39 prefectures having the state of emergency lifted, Abe has cautioned against easing restrictions too quickly as that may prompt a surge of new infections.
The prime minister has asked residents to return ‘gradually’ to their normal lives, requesting that they avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact, telework wherever possible, and stay alert for instances of the coronavirus.
“Today is the day we begin to reclaim our normality and embrace a new normal in the time of coronavirus,” the prime minister said. “Even after the state of emergency was lifted … the coronavirus continues to exist for sure.”
Restrictions meant that people should refrain from making unnecessary journeys and some businesses were asked to reduce their opening hours or remain closed altogether
Japan’s state of emergency
Prime Minister Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency in early April which included Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures. However, he later expanded it to cover all of Japan.
Last week, he extended the emergency until the end of May. Restrictions meant that people should refrain from making unnecessary journeys and some businesses were asked to reduce their opening hours or remain closed altogether.
It is hoped that the eight prefectures still under the state emergency might see it lifted before May 31. In order for that to happen, Tokyo would need to be reporting fewer than 70 new coronavirus cases over the course of a week.
Governors request restrictions on movement between prefectures
With the differing levels of restriction in place now across the prefectures, governors throughout Japan are worried about people travelling from regions still under the state of emergency to other areas.
They have asked that people help to contain the coronavirus by refraining from travelling between the prefectures.
“We must strongly request people refrain from travelling from areas where the state of emergency is still declared to the other regions,” said Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi at a teleconference meeting.
Has the state of emergency been lifted in your area? If so, how do you think your day-to-day life will change? Let us know in the comment section.
"Otsumami" - a bite size snack:
While lifting restrictions is a necessary step to returning to some form of normalcy, it’s important that we not be complacent.