On May 14, Japan lifted the state of emergency in 39 out of the country’s 47 prefectures, which included larger cities such as Fukuoka and Nagoya. Now, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo (which includes Kobe), are set to reopen today.
According to a Kyodo News report, 'the Japanese government decided Thursday [May 21] to lift a state of emergency declared over the novel coronavirus in the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo'. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to officially announce the decision later today. Originally, the nationwide state of emergency was set to expire only on May 31.
While nonessential businesses will be allowed to reopen, residents are encouraged to adopt a new lifestyle which includes social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowded places. Residents are still strongly discouraged from travelling between prefectures as this will help reduce the further spread of Covid-19 coronavirus. If the number of coronavirus cases peaks again, the government may once again restrict nonessential outings.
Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Hokkaido are to remain under a state of emergency. Lifting the restrictions at this time could cause a second spike in new cases. The Japan Times reports that for the emergency declaration to be lifted in these prefectures, the number of new cases per week must fall below 0.5 per 100,000 people. In Tokyo, this means there must be less than 70 new cases a week. Each prefecture must also have enough medical and testing services before the state of emergency can be lifted. In the hope of reaching those goals, the Tokyo government recently released a roadmap for the eventual reopening of the city.
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