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Japan extends state of emergency to May 31 – but plans to ease restrictions

The nationwide state of emergency over coronavirus has been extended to May 31, with plans for revised measures

Kasey Furutani
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Kasey Furutani
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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the nationwide state of emergency to May 31 due to the increasing number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases. This is also to prevent putting more strain on the country's medical facilities, which are already stretched thin. The state of emergency was originally declared on April 7 in seven prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka; it was extended nationwide on April 16. Previously, the state of emergency was supposed to end on May 6, the last day of the Golden Week holiday.

The state of emergency in Japan is not strictly a lockdown: it strongly urges residents to stay home while non-essential businesses are asked to temporarily close. Many establishments throughout Tokyo and Japan have shuttered, while restaurants have adjusted their opening hours and shifted to delivery and takeout

The Japan Times reports that while the state of emergency has been extended, the government is planning to gradually restart the economy while still maintaining public health. Certain public facilities including libraries, museums and parks might be able to reopen with proper social distancing measures. Restrictions will slowly ease up in more rural prefectures, but travelling across prefectures is still strongly discouraged. 

Thirteen prefectures including Tokyo, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Osaka and Kyoto will keep to the current strict measures. The government aims to cut close social contact by 80 percent and has advised people to stay home as well as wear masks and practise social distancing whenever outside. 

It is possible that the state of emergency could be lifted early. That's dependent on the coronavirus situation in Japan, which will be evaluated by the government's team of infectious disease experts around May 14. 

At the time of writing, there are 14,553 confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan.

Follow live updates on the coronavirus situation in Tokyo and Japan here.

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