The Saturday editions of all national dailies reported extensively on the GOJ’s formal decision on Friday to place Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, and Osaka under a fresh COVID-19 state of emergency from Aug. 2 through 31. The ongoing state of emergency for Tokyo and Okinawa will also be extended by 10 days through the end of August. Eateries serving alcohol in the six prefectures will be asked to not operate under the state of emergency. The GOJ will also issue a quasi-state of emergency for Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka.
During a press conference on Friday evening, Prime Minister Suga pledged to employ all available measures to flatten the epidemic curve so that the new state of emergency will be the last one. He also promised to further accelerate the vaccine rollout so that 40% of Japanese people will have received two doses by the end of August, adding that concentrated efforts will be made to vaccinate those in their 50s and under. He called for people not to travel beyond prefectural borders during the summer holidays.
The dailies said the prime minister failed to present any new steps to quickly rein in the virus, noting that the absence of fresh measures signifies that the administration now has no choice but to rely on swift vaccination to contain the fifth wave. Mainichi speculated that the administration was hesitant to take strong measures, such as calling for the closure of major retail outlets, out of fear of displeasing the public, which criticized the administration’s previous attempt to pressure banks to stop providing loans to eateries that refused to comply with requests not to serve alcohol.