Govt. to let Osaka take stricter antivirus steps

The Japanese government plans to issue a designation to Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, allowing it to take stricter antivirus measures, without a state of emergency declaration, as coronavirus cases are rising again there.

The government is expected to reach the decision on Thursday at a meeting of its taskforce. Osaka will be the first prefecture to be allowed such strong measures against the virus.

The central government is also working to issue the same designation to Miyagi and Hyogo prefectures after listening to experts' opinions.

Osaka Prefecture officially requested the designation from the central government on Wednesday night.

It wants to start intensive measures by next Monday and implement them for about three weeks. The measures will cover Osaka City, where infections are spreading rapidly.

The prefecture plans to ask restaurants and bars in the city to shorten their business hours by one hour to 8 p.m., an hour earlier than the current limit of 9 p.m.

Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi also wants to make it mandatory for people to wear masks when they eat and drink out.
He also says he thinks operators will be obliged to ban people from entering eating and drinking establishments or ask them to leave if they refuse to wear masks.