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Spike in COVID-19 cases prompts business restrictions in Osaka

  • April 1, 2021
  • , All national papers
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All national papers reported that the GOJ plans to approve today Osaka Governor Yoshimura’s formal request to be allowed to reinstate restrictions on local eateries in order to rein in the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in the prefecture. The GOJ is also likely to ask the governors of Hyogo and Miyagi, and potentially Yamagata and Okinawa, to reinstate the restrictions as cases have also risen in their jurisdictions. Once the GOJ approves the request, the governors will be able to ask local restaurants and nightlife establishments in certain municipalities to close by 8 p.m. Governor Yoshimura has indicated that the restrictions will only be applied to eateries in Osaka City for three weeks starting on April 5 even though the GOJ has proposed a four-week limitation through the end of the Golden Week holidays in early May. The Osaka leader is also set to ask restaurants not to serve customers who refuse to wear masks.


The GOJ has reportedly decided to reinstate business restrictions in Osaka relatively swiftly in order to avoid having to declare a fresh state of emergency, which would be highly unpopular since the public appears to be tired of exercising restraint. According to Mainichi, some Suga administration officials are displeased that Osaka’s infection situation has deteriorated so rapidly only a month after the state of emergency was lifted on February 29 in response to prodding by Governor Yoshimura. They are afraid that similar restrictions on eateries may need to be reimposed in Tokyo and elsewhere soon in the face of a gradual uptick in new cases.


Asahi said the spike in new cases in Osaka over the past few days prompted the GOJ to abandon its initial reluctance to reimpose business restrictions there. “What is happening in Osaka today will occur in Tokyo tomorrow,” said a source close to Prime Minister Suga, who explained that the GOJ is paying close attention to the infection situation in the nation’s two largest urban areas. The daily added that some epidemiologists are doubtful about the new measures and believe that declaring a state of emergency would be more effective in containing the virus especially given that the new strains are apparently spreading rapidly. According to the Health Ministry, a total of 1,200 people had tested positive for the three emerging variants nationwide as of March 30.


The dailies separately reported on a looming “fourth wave” of the virus across Japan, saying that over 2,800 new cases were reported yesterday for the first time since Jan. 31. Miyagi and Aomori marked record numbers of positive tests, 200 and 81, respectively. As the seven-day rolling average of the number of new patients in Osaka had increased almost 134% from a week ago as of March 31, Nikkei said the third most populous prefecture is currently experiencing a bigger resurgence than during the third wave.

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