Japan to extend Tokyo area state of emergency to March 21


Pedestrians wearing protective masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, make their way in Tokyo, Japan, Feb 2, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency to combat COVID-19 for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

Under the state of emergency, the government has requested restaurants and bars close by 8 pm and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier. People are also asked to stay home after 8 pm unless they have essential reasons to go out.

Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, which make up 30 percent of the country's population, sought the extension past the originally scheduled end date of March 7 as new coronavirus cases had not fallen enough to meet targets.

The government had an early-morning meeting with advisers and they approved the extension, Nishimura, who is in charge of the government's coronavirus response, told reporters.

But the measure will put more burden on restaurants.

"As long as the government asks us to endure for another two weeks, we will follow its instructions. But that would be a matter of life or death for us," said Akira Koganezawa, vice president of the association for 55 restaurants that serve monjayaki - a pan-fried batter dish popular in Tokyo area.

"Without enough subsidies, some restaurants would go out of business," he said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is scheduled to hold a news conference at 9:00 pm local time (1200 GMT) after the government officially decides the extension, according to his office.

Fuji TV, citing an unnamed government official, reported on Friday that another extension until the end of March could not be ruled out.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering setting a criteria that new daily infections stay below 140 on a weekly average basis, to lift the state of emergency, the Nikkei reported.

Tokyo's daily new infection came in at 269 on average for the past week through March 4, according to Reuters calculations.

The government is keen to tame the spread of the virus as preparations ramp up for the Tokyo Olympics with just 4-1/2 months until they kick off.

Foreign athletes have been barred from entering Japan to train ahead of the Games during the state of emergency. It was not immediately clear if the ban would remain in place during the extension for the Tokyo region while the order has already been lifted for the rest of the country.

The current curbs are narrower in scope than those imposed under an emergency in spring of last year when schools and non-essential businesses were mostly shuttered.

Still, new case numbers are at a fraction of their peak in early January, when the state of emergency took effect. Tokyo reported 279 cases on Thursday, compared with a record high 2,520 on Jan 7

Nationwide, Japan has recorded some 433,000 cases and 8,050 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

东京——日本经济大臣西村康稔周五表示,日本政府计划将东京和三个邻近县抗击新冠肺炎的紧急状态延长至3月21日,比原计划延长两周。在紧急状态下,政府要求餐馆和酒吧在晚上8点前关闭,并提前一小时停止供应酒精。人们也被要求在晚上8点后呆在家里,除非他们有必要的理由出去。占全国人口30%的东京、千叶、神奈川和琦玉县寻求延长原定3月7日的截止日期,因为新的冠状病毒病例没有下降到足以达到目标。负责政府应对冠状病毒的西村告诉记者,政府与顾问们在清晨举行了会议,他们批准了延期。但这项措施会给餐馆带来更多负担。“只要政府要求我们再忍耐两周,我们就会遵照它的指示。但这对我们来说是生死攸关的事情,”Akira Koganezawa说,他是55家餐厅协会的副主席,这些餐厅提供在东京地区很受欢迎的油炸面糊。“没有足够的补贴,一些餐馆会倒闭,”他说。根据菅义伟总理办公室的消息,在政府正式决定延期后,他计划在当地时间晚上9点(格林威治时间12点)举行新闻发布会。富士电视台周五援引一名未透露姓名的政府官员的话报道称,不排除再次延长至3月底的可能性。据《日经新闻》报道,东京都政府正在考虑设定一个标准,即每周平均每日新增感染人数保持在140人以下,以解除紧急状态。据路透社计算,截至3月4日的过去一周,东京每日新感染人数平均为269人。随着距离东京奥运会开幕只有4个半月的时间,政府急于遏制病毒的传播。在紧急状态期间,外国运动员被禁止进入日本在奥运会前进行训练。目前还不清楚禁令是否会在东京地区延长期间继续有效,而对该国其他地区的禁令已经取消。目前的限制范围比去年春天紧急情况下实施的要窄,当时学校和非必要的企业大多关闭。尽管如此,新病例数仍处于1月初紧急状态生效时峰值的一小部分。东京周四报告了279例病例,而1月7日全国范围内的最高记录为2520例。截至周三,日本已记录了约43.3万例病例和8050例新冠肺炎死亡病例。


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