In wave 5, Japan extends Covid’s emergence in Tokyo and other regions

Japan extended on Thursday (29) the emergency restrictions of Covid-19 in Tokyo and other regions until the end of this month to contain infections and prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded.

Announcing the measure, ratified earlier by an advisory committee, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was needed to shore up a medical system still under pressure from severe cases, although new infections were declining and vaccinations increasing.

“The inoculation of all those who wish to be vaccinated will be completed in October or November,” Suga told reporters. “And from then on, we will be able to ease the restrictions using vaccination tests or test results.”

Japan is suffering from a fifth wave of the virus and last month extended its long-running restrictions until Sept. 12 to cover about 80% of its population.

The number of serious cases and the pressure on the medical system have not eased enough in Tokyo and surrounding areas to allow restrictions to be lifted. Now the measures will run until September 30 and will include Osaka in the west of the country.

Japanese emergency restrictions focus on asking restaurants to close early and refrain from serving alcohol. Residents are being encouraged to work from home as much as possible and not travel.

“I believe that we are starting to see results, but it is too early to let down our guard,” said Health Minister Norihisa Tamura.

The Nikkei newspaper reported that the government is leaning towards easing international entry restrictions by reducing quarantine times for vaccinated travelers. The move was called for by Keidanren, the main Japanese trade lobby, and by foreign chambers of commerce.

“We welcome any proposal to reopen Japan’s borders to business travel as part of a scientific approach to preserving public health,” said Christopher La Fleur, special adviser to the American Chamber of Commerce in the country.

Authorities are considering plans that would reward businesses that maintain current infection controls, such as pedestrian traffic limits, or encourage vaccination checks and testing status at their premises.