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Tokyo-area governors eye extension of COVID-19 emergency by 2 weeks

3 March 2021 12:51
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Tokyo-area governors eye extension of COVID-19 emergency by 2 weeks

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Governors in the Tokyo metropolitan area are considering asking Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency by about two weeks as the decline in new infections has slowed, sources with knowledge of the plan said Wednesday, Kyodo reports.

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and her counterparts in Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures are expected to discuss the matter, possibly in the afternoon, ahead of the scheduled end date on Sunday.

Suga, meanwhile, reiterated he will decide whether to lift the state of emergency based on a range of factors after consulting health experts.

Any decision for the metropolitan area will be as a whole rather than for each prefecture individually, he said in a session of the House of Councillors' Budget Committee

Ending the state of emergency, under which people are being urged to refrain from unnecessarily leaving the house and restaurants and bars asked to close by 8 p.m., is expected to be a crucial step toward reviving the world's third-largest economy.

But health experts and prefectural governments have expressed concern that doing so prematurely could trigger a resurgence in infections as Japan heads into the season for cherry blossom-viewing parties.

Saitama Gov. Motohiro Ono told reporters the wholesale lifting of measures currently being taken under the state of emergency was «not an option,» while adding that he and his counterparts had not agreed to ask Suga for an extension yet.

Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita has also voiced similar apprehension over ending the measures, while Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa has been more open to staying on schedule.

Suga declared a one-month state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area on Jan. 7 before expanding it to a total of 11 prefectures. He later extended it by an additional month but ended it early for the remaining prefectures, citing a fall in infections and rise in the availability of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.



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