After Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on the evening of Wednesday March 17 that the state of emergency was likely to end on schedule, government officials met on March 18 and formally agreed to allow the emergency to expire after Sunday March 21. Currently the state of emergency affects Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, namely Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.
According to The Japan Times, the decision comes after a consultation with experts on the government’s coronavirus task force, who said that hospitalisation rates are now at an acceptable level for restrictions to be eased.
Though the rate of new infections has decreased and inoculations for Covid-19 vaccines are finally underway, Kyodo News reports that the Prime Minister stressed in a parliamentary session that it is vital people don’t become complacent.
While the nation’s second state of emergency – which lasted for two and a half months in Tokyo – will be lifted on Monday March 22, border restrictions for international arrivals will remain in place for the time being. In addition, Kyodo News reports that governors of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama will ask restaurants to continue operating on shorter business hours until the end of March, though they will now be allowed to stay open until 9pm – one hour longer than have been under the state of emergency.
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