The nation’s capital, Tokyo, and seven prefectures (Hokkaido, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Hyogo, Osaka and Kyoto) will still maintain emergency measures for now. A decision will be made again on May 21, raising the prospect that the measures could be lifted before the end of the month.
Museums, libraries, parks and other facilities are likely to be allowed to reopen provided preventive measures such as physical distancing are in place. Local leaders have voiced concern that infections could spread if people stop practising physical distancing and start moving around again.
The Japanese government will continue to remind the public to maintain social distancing and avoid crowded areas as it gradually lifts the restrictions to get the faltering economy going.
The number of people to have contracted coronavirus in Japan stood at 16,285 as of 17 May, with 744 deaths. The figures include 712 infections and 13 deaths linked to the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which was quarantined in Yokohama, near Tokyo, in February.
Coronavirus in Japan
The first Covid-19 case in Japan was announced on 16 January. Hokkaido was the first prefecture to enter a state of emergency on February 28. As the fatalities continue to rise, the Japanese government has declared a nationwide state of emergency on April 16 and it had planned to end the state of emergency on May 6. But due to the intolerable pressure on healthcare resources and the number of new infections has not reduced drastically enough to relax the measures, the state of emergency has been extended until May 31.