Following a rise in COVID cases, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a cabinet meeting Friday that four prefectures in Japan will go into a state of emergency starting Sunday.
CNN reported that Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures will be under a state of emergency through until May 11, much shorter than previous orders which lasted 7 and 10 weeks. Japan is in the midst of a fourth wave and there are elevated restrictions currently across 10 prefectures -- mainly covering Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas.
"We are introducing a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from April 25 to May 11. The new measure is being introduced during the Golden Week [May holidays from April 29 to May 9] Intensively and for a short period in order to reduce the flow of people," Suga told the NHK broadcaster.
"This declaration is aimed at enhancing the measures against restaurants and stopping the movement of people during the Golden Week, as a short and intensive measure," said Prime Minister Suga as quoted by CNN.
Under the state of emergency, large commercial spaces like shopping malls will be barred from operating, except to provide essential items and services. Establishments that serve alcohol will be asked to close and dry establishments are to close from 8 p.m. or face a fine.
Kyodo News reported that meanwhile, Japan has lagged behind other countries in its vaccine rollout, with only around 1 percent of its population having received at least one dose of Pfizer Inc.'s two shots. The government hopes to finish inoculating all of Japan's elderly by the end of July, Suga said.
Suga said the country's third emergency declaration will not affect the staging of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, reiterating the government will continue efforts to ensure they are "safe and secure."
"We are working closely with the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Orgzing Committee, and the Tokyo municipality. We will do what it takes to make it a safe and secure Olympics," Suga told a news conference.
( With inputs from ANI )
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