Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Japan lifts state of emergency in five remaining prefectures

The coronavirus crisis is over in Japan, that’s what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Monday, 25 May as he lifted the state of emergency in Tokyo and four other prefectures. The country’s experts have deemed the infections under control, thus allowing Japan to end its curbs on economic activity.

At a press conference, Abe announced that Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido are no longer under a state of emergency. These five prefectures are the last ones to exit from this measure, which has been in place since April. The lifting of the measures came ahead of schedule.

The removal of restrictions is seen to gradually revitalise the recession-hit Japanese economy. After all, the five prefectures mentioned contribute approximately a third of the country’s GDP.

“I have decided to end the state of emergency across the nation. In just over a month and a half, we almost brought the situation under control,” said Abe.

An advisory panel has greenlit the lifting of the emergency earlier in the day following a scrutiny of the number of new cases, the availability of medical resources and the capacity to test and monitor the virus and its spread. 

As with most other countries, the plan to exit from the emergency will be a phased, gradual one. Economic revitalisation minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said there will be a transitional period that will be assessed every three weeks. 

As a start, people are discouraged from crossing prefectural borders until the end of May. The first phase will also see the reopening of museums and libraries as well as the extension of eateries’ and restaurants’ operating hours until 10 pm. 

The second phase may begin by the end of the month, which would allow the resumption of operations in movie theatres and shops selling non-essential products. Places with high risk of group transmission, such as karaoke parlors, gyms and live music venues, will remain closed.

Japan has logged at least 17,200 cases with 853 deaths.

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