TOKYO: The Japanese government obtained approval Monday from an advisory panel of its plan to completely lift the state of emergency over the novel coronavirus epidemic before it expires Sunday.
The removal of the emergency declaration for Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, as well as the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, will be made official at a government meeting Monday evening, after advance reporting of the decision to the Diet, Japan’s parliament.
As the government has already lifted the emergency in the 42 other prefectures, the decision to cancel the declaration for the five prefectures will free the whole country from the emergency for the first time in about 50 days.
“Judging the situation comprehensively, the government now sees no need to declare emergency in any prefecture,” Economic and fiscal policy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at the panel’s meeting.
Meanwhile, Shigeru Omi, chair of the panel and president of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, stressed the need to “continuously conduct detailed survey and analysis” of the infection situation in Tokyo, which reported 14 new infection cases on Sunday, as well as in Kanagawa and Hokkaido, which are yet to meet the government-set standard of 0.5 or fewer new infection per 100,000 people in the past week.
The panel also approved the government’s proposal to revise its basic policy on response to the coronavirus crisis.
The revised policy calls for setting a transition period for people to adapt to new lifestyles needed to prepare for a prolonged fight against the virus and relaxing in stages the government’s guidelines for holding events and avoiding outings by assessing the infection situation roughly every three weeks.
For deciding whether to lift the emergency, the government had laid out a policy to look at the extent of infections, medical preparedness and the monitoring capacity.
While setting the standard of 0.5 infection case per population of 100,000 as one of its criteria for lifting the emergency, the government had said it is open to removing the declaration even if the infection rate is up to 1.0, depending on the infection situation.
Under a special measures law, the government declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and six prefectures on April 7. It expanded the coverage of the declaration to the whole country on April 16 and extended the emergency period through the end of May on May 4.
The government lifted the emergency in 39 prefectures on May 14 and three western Japan prefectures on Thursday.