Japan To Extend Virus Emergency to Mid-September, Sankei Says
(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is poised to expand and extend for about another two weeks a virus state of emergency in Tokyo now set to expire at the end of August, the Sankei newspaper said.
The decision to extend the emergency to mid-September could take place as soon as Tuesday, the paper said. The delta variant has swept across the country, pushing the number of serious cases and patients in hospitals to records. The emergency currently in force in Tokyo and five other prefectures, will be expanded to include the western regions of Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka, the Sankei added.
Tokyo reported 4,295 new cases Sunday, while the country as a whole saw almost 18,000, just under a record of more than 20,000 reached last week. Eight deaths were reported nationally, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Japan’s states of emergency, which have few legal teeth, have become less effective in changing people’s behavior over time, and have had fewer economic implications. The country skirted a recession last quarter as a rebound in consumer spending defied virus restrictions, government data released Monday showed.
Virus czar and Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters his feelings about the growth figures were “complicated,” given that the government’s top priority is to rein in the virus.
Under the existing measures, local governors can order bars and restaurants to close early and stop serving alcohol, but many businesses are flouting instructions, despite the threat of fines. No restrictions are placed on individuals under current law -- the government has relied on requesting that people avoid unnecessary outings.
Suga has rejected the idea of a mandatory lockdown, saying it wouldn’t be accepted in Japan and that he would instead rely on a rapid vaccine rollout. About 37% of Japan’s population is fully immunized, with the government seeking to provide shots to all those who want them by November, which is also the deadline for holding the next general election.
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