TOKYO – After placing 16 prefectures under COVID-19 pre-emergency measures, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has decided to expand the declaration to 18 more areas in an effort to stop the rapid spread of infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Hokkaido, Aomori, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Ishikawa, Nagano, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Shimane, Okayama, Fukuoka, Saga, Oita and Kagoshima join Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Niigata, Aichi, Gunma, Gifu, Mie, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki where the restrictions are already in place until Feb. 13. The designation for the 18 prefectures will remain in effect through Feb. 20.
The prefectures of Okinawa, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi are already in that status since Jan. 9 and was extended until Feb. 20 from the previously planned expiration at the end of January.
Under the pre-emergency measures, bars and restaurants are requested by prefectural governors to close by 8 p.m. and stop the serving of alcohol. Group dining is limited to four people per group.
Japan recorded 71,633 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, topping 70,000 for the first time. - Florenda Corpuz
(File photo: Dotonbori in Osaka on Sept. 22, 2021. Din Eugenio)