All national dailies wrote on Tuesday that the GOJ officially decided during a meeting of its coronavirus taskforce headquarters on Monday to extend the nationwide state of emergency through May 31 in view of the continuing spread of the new coronavirus. At a news conference held after the meeting, Prime Minister Abe said that although the number of new COVID-19 cases per day is declining, it has not dropped enough and another month will be needed to shore up the medical system. Abe added that the GOJ will seek to reduce the number of new cases per day across the nation to less than 100 before lifting the state of emergency.
Abe stated that although the extended state of emergency covers the entire country, some prefectures may be able to lift it before the end of this month depending on their individual situations. He said an advisory panel of medical experts will make a fresh assessment around May 14. Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura said during a videoconference with business leaders and prefectural governors on Tuesday that the GOJ will listen to experts’ opinions on May 21 as well as on May 14 to consider whether to lift the state of emergency. While supporting the GOJ’s decision to extend the state of emergency, the business leaders called on the government to present specific numerical targets for lifting restrictions on economic activities.
The GOJ will continue to ask people in the 13 prefectures designated as areas that warrant special attention to stay home as much as possible to reduce social contact by 80%. However, parks, libraries, and museums may be permitted to reopen if they take measures to prevent infection. The 34 other prefectures also might be able to relax some of their current restrictions on social and economic activities.
The papers expressed the view that although the GOJ is trying to strike a balance between stemming the spread of the virus and normalizing economic activities, it has yet to come up with a clear “exit strategy.”