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Exclusive: Coronavirus pre-emergency steps likely for Osaka

  • March 31, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 1:32 a.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 30 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government is considering introducing pre-emergency measures in Osaka Prefecture for preventing a further spread of the novel coronavirus there if the western Japan prefecture asks the state for such steps, Jiji Press learned Tuesday.

Currently, the Osaka prefectural government is requesting restaurants and bars in the city of Osaka, the prefecture’s capital, to close by 9 p.m. as part of its efforts to contain the coronavirus crisis.

The central government plans to call on the prefecture to request such facilities to close at 8 p.m. or earlier as a condition for implementing pre-emergency measures, informed sources said.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said Monday that a fourth wave of infections has begun in the prefecture, suggesting that he will ask the state to introduce such measures for Osaka.

The Osaka prefectural government is set to hold a meeting of its coronavirus response task force shortly to formalize its decision, planning to make the request within this week, the sources said.

In response to the expected request, the central government will make a final decision on whether to implement pre-emergency measures after hearing opinions from experts, the sources said.

This will be the first time for pre-emergency measures to be invoked since they were established under the country’s revised special law on the fight against the coronavirus, which was enacted in February.

On Tuesday, the prefecture confirmed 432 new cases of novel coronavirus infection, marking its largest single-day figure since the central government’s second state of emergency over the virus was lifted for the prefecture at the end of February.

While a state of emergency is issued on the basis of prefecture, measures under the pre-emergency stage can be implemented in more specific areas, such as cities, towns and villages.

Under the pre-emergency stage, prefectural governors are allowed to request or order local eating and drinking establishments to shorten their operating hours and impose administrative fines of up to 200,000 yen on noncompliant facilities.

In talks with reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the central government has not received a formal request from Osaka for pre-emergency measures. “We’ll set a direction while consulting with experts,” he said.

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