The Japanese government is planning to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures as early as Thursday in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said at a news conference on Monday that the government is considering declaring a state of emergency for the capital as well as Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.
Suga said new cases in those areas remained extremely high in the first three days of the new year, accounting for about half of the national total. He said a stronger message needs to be sent to the public.
The declaration is likely to remain in effect for around a month.
The government will try not to hamper social and economic activities by implementing the measures in a limited and focused manner. It plans to ask restaurants and bars to reduce their hours and to expand financial support to those that comply with the request.
In cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan and three prefectural governments, the central government plans to tighten rules on events and further encourage business to adopt remote working schemes.
The central government will not request all schools in the region to close. The standardized university entrance exams will start on January 16 as scheduled, with strict measures in place to reduce the risk of infection.