Govt. to decide on state of emergency declaration

Japan's government plans to decide on Thursday to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The declaration will likely be in effect from Friday through February 7.

The government is to make the decision at its coronavirus taskforce meeting after soliciting opinions from its advisory panel and notifying the Diet of the plan.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on Wednesday met Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who's in charge of the coronavirus response, and health minister Tamura Norihisa.

Suga told the ministers to expedite efforts to work out details of measures to be implemented under the declaration, which would cover Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.

The government will likely take limited yet focused approaches, such as steps to mitigate infection risks at restaurants and bars.

The government is considering revising an ordinance to allow the names and other information of such businesses to be made public if they refuse to cut their opening hours as asked by the governors of Tokyo and the three prefectures.

The government is also studying the option of boosting subsidies to 60,000 yen, or roughly 580 dollars, per day for each dining establishment that complies with governors' requests that they close early.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu told a news conference that the government will expand subsidies to increase the number of businesses that heed requests.

The government will likely urge people to refrain from nonessential outings.

It is also considering limiting the number of spectators at events to half their venues' capacity or 5,000.

The government regards telework as one of the most effective anti-infection measures. Minister Nishimura has indicated that the government may ask companies to reduce the number of employees commuting to offices by 70 percent.