Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Japan set to widen Covid-19 curbs over most of the country amid Omicron surge

The central government has received requests for the so-called quasi-emergency measures from another 18 prefectures, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says.

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Japan on Monday prepared to double the number of regions enacting shortened operating hours for restaurants and other infection curbs to contain a record surge in Covid-19 cases.

The central government has received requests for the so-called quasi-emergency measures from another 18 prefectures, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

The measures allow regional governors to order curbs on mobility and business, such as making restaurants and bars close early and restricting alcohol sales.

Japan has declared various levels of emergency multiple times during the two-year pandemic. A full state of emergency might involve closures of venues serving alcohol, attendance restrictions at sporting and cultural events and fines for non-compliant businesses.

Japan recorded more than 54,000 new infections on Saturday, the highest ever, driven by the infectious Omicron variant.

The northern island Hokkaido and the western prefecture of Osaka are among those asking for the curbs. The government will decide on the expansion swiftly, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said earlier.

If widened, the curbs would cover 34 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including the capital of Tokyo.

The country has recorded 2.1 million coronavirus cases and 18,498 deaths during the pandemic.

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