After extending the nationwide state of emergency until May 31, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a public appeal for citizens to embrace what the government is calling a 'new lifestyle' in the coming months. Here’s what you need to know about what this new normal might look like.
Why is this necessary?
The Prime Minister has said that while the temporary closure of non-essential businesses and leisure facilities will help decrease the number of coronavirus cases in Japan, the country will be at risk of a second wave of infections in the coming months. To avoid this possibility, Abe has urged citizens to think long-term and stay cautious, even after the declaration of emergency is lifted at the end of May.
What lifestyle changes does this entail?
Even after shops and public facilities are reopened, the public should continue to follow the same hygiene protocols such as wearing masks, staying clear of crowded places, and washing hands frequently. Those who are no longer working from home should also try to avoid taking public transport at rush hour. According to The Japan Times, the government has also advised people to avoid talking on public transport or sitting side-by-side when eating meals.
The Mainichi Shimbun reports that the government plans to allow libraries, parks and museums to reopen, as long as proper hygiene and social distancing measures are followed.
What is the government doing to help?
The Prime Minister has declared that tax and social insurance collection will be delayed, to give people time to adjust to the impact the pandemic has had on household earnings. In addition, the government will also be handing out ¥100,000 to every resident of Japan. Abe will be meeting with experts again on May 14 to discuss the next steps on tackling the pandemic and protecting citizens.
Follow live updates on the coronavirus situation in Tokyo and Japan here.