Minister of Finance:
Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Finance, Economy and Rehabilitation, who is in charge of measures against the new coronavirus, attended the House Steering Committee of both Houses of Representatives on the 7th. He reported that he would issue a state of emergency in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures in response to the spread of the infection. “We have determined that the nationwide and rapid spread has created a situation that could have a tremendous impact on people’s lives and the national economy,” he explained.
The period of the declaration will be from 8th to 7th February. Mr. Nishimura said, “We will take effective emergency measures such as controlling the flow of people who lead to eating and drinking in order to improve the effectiveness of measures such as eating and drinking, which is the main starting point for the spread of infection.”
One guideline for cancelling the state of emergency is to break out of “Stage 4”, which is the most serious of the four stages of infection. Mr. Nishimura acknowledged that the number of newly infected people per day would need to be reduced to about 500 as an example of the cancellation criteria for Tokyo.
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Yukio Edano, the representative of the Constitutional Democratic Party, criticized the government’s response, saying that “the attitude of prioritizing the economy has led to a later response.” Mr Nishimura emphasized that he had heard that as of December last year, experts were not in a situation to declare a state of emergency. He said, “In response to the tighter medical care during the New Year holidays, the declaration was issued.”
Mr Edano complained to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who did not attend the committee, saying, “Leaders in many countries are taking the lead in calling on the people. The prime minister lacks awareness as a leader.”
Prior to the Diet report, Mr Nishimura consulted with the Advisory Committee on the Basic Coping Policy, which is composed of experts, to issue a declaration. The advisory board determined that it was appropriate. The Prime Minister will announce the issuance of a declaration at the Corona Countermeasures Headquarters on the evening of the 7th. He calls for cooperation in infection control measures at a subsequent press conference.
By issuing the declaration, the increase in the number of newly infected people will not be stopped, and the spread of infection in the metropolitan area will be suppressed. Unlike April 2020, which was announced last time, the request targets are limited to restaurants that are considered to have a high risk of infection.
The government’s response policy stipulates restaurants, coffee shops, etc., including taverns, as industries for which the governor requests shortening of business hours based on the Special Measures Law. At the entertainment facilities, we mentioned bars and karaoke boxes. Both require business hours to be 8 pm and alcoholic beverages to be served from 11 am to 7 pm. Mr Nishimura explained that home delivery and takeout are not subject to the request.
The government will make it possible to provide cooperation money to restaurants upon request up to 60,000 yen per store per day. Make it possible to publish the names of stores that do not respond to requests and improve their effectiveness. We will revise the Cabinet Order of the Special Measures Law to respond.
For large-scale events, the maximum number of participants is 5,000, which is up to 50% of the capacity of the facility. Residents are requested to refrain from going out unnecessarily and urgently after 8 pm.
Encourage companies to cooperate with telework and aim to reduce the number of employees by 70%. The aim is to reduce the flow of people and reduce contact opportunities as much as possible.
As for schools, we do not require elementary, junior high and high schools and universities to be closed uniformly to avoid confusion in the field. There is also an analysis that there are few school infections and young people are less likely to become severely ill. Regarding club activities, those with loud vocalizations or physical contact are requested to be restricted. The university entrance test from the 16th will be conducted as scheduled.
Revise the basic coping policy that includes measures for the new corona. Criteria for canceling the declaration are also specified. The guideline is to break away from the most serious “stage 4” of the four stages of infection that experts have compiled. Comprehensively judge the infection situation in the area such as the number of newly infected people, the number of medical treatment people, and the degree of tightness of beds.
If it is judged that the criteria are met, there is a possibility that the cancellation will be accelerated. On the contrary, if the standard is not reached within the deadline, the period may be extended.
The declaration will be issued for the second time following April 2008. Last time, it was announced on April 7th for 7 prefectures and spread nationwide on April 16th. The infection was gradually released from areas where the infection situation had settled down, and was completely released on May 25.
Major overseas countries are also strengthening their refrain from going out as the infection spreads again. Germany will prevent residents in highly infected areas from moving beyond 15 km from their place of residence without good reason, such as work or hospital visits. In the UK, where highly infectious mutants are widespread, a lockdown (city blockade) began on the 5th in England. The school also suspended face-to-face lessons by restricting unnecessary and unurgent going out.
Unlike overseas, Japan’s state of emergency does not impose any force on refraining from going out. There are no penalties, even if requested by the governor.