This is part 8 of our coronavirus FAQ. Click here to read the other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.
Q: How will the state of emergency declaration affect daily life?
The declaration will place certain restrictions on everyday life.
The governors of the affected prefectures can ask residents to refrain from excursions other than hospital visits, grocery shopping, and commutes. The measure would not be mandatory.
The governors have the authority to shut down prefectural high schools. They can also ask private schools and elementary and junior high schools under municipal jurisdiction to close.
The governors can ask large-scale facilities with floor space exceeding 1,000 square meters to limit operations or shut down. These facilities include theaters, event venues, department stores, supermarkets, hotels and inns, gyms and pools, museums, libraries, night clubs, driving schools, and cram schools.
Supermarkets are allowed to keep sections open for everyday necessities such as food, medicine, and hygiene items.
If a facility does not follow the request, the governor can then publicly release the names of businesses that refuse to comply.
Events and fairs
The governors can ask organizers to postpone or cancel events. Again, if the organizer does not comply, the next step could be to publicly name the organizers.
Q. Are there restrictions on utilities?
The declaration does not affect essential utilities. Providers of electricity, gas, and water have been asked to implement measures to ensure stable supply.
Transportation, telephone, internet and postal service providers have been asked to continue normal operations. The declaration does not limit public transportation.
Q. Will there be a guaranteed supply of face masks?
Governors can ask businesses to sell masks and other necessary goods to the local government. If the businesses refuse, the governors are allowed to expropriate the items.
The central government has already purchased and delivered masks to residents of Hokkaido and to medical institutions. This was carried out according to a 1973 law that was enacted in response to the global oil crisis.
Q. Are there any measures the governors can put in place that, if violated, lead to fines?
There are two measures the governors can enforce. The first is the use of land or buildings to set up temporary medical facilities without owner consent. The second is the ordering of businesses to store medical supplies, food, and other necessary goods.
If owners do not comply with the second order, for example by hiding or discarding the items, they face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to 300,000 yen, or 2,800 dollars.
The data presented here are correct as of April 7, 2020.