Japan government may ask Tokyo area to call for business shutdowns

The government may ask Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba to make business suspension requests depending on the extent of the new coronavirus outbreak there, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Sunday.

“To avoid a situation where people flow into the three prefectures if they cannot go out in Tokyo, it would be important for the whole Tokyo metropolitan area to take steps in an integrated manner,” Nishimura, who is in charge of the central government’s response to the virus crisis, told a news conference. “We have to think about business suspension requests as we monitor the infection situation.”

The minister was referring to business suspension requests prefectural governors are entitled to make based on Article 24 of the revised special measures law to fight new strains of influenza, which now covers the novel coronavirus.

His remarks came as the central government studies ways to strengthen preventive measures to tackle the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The Saitama Prefectural Government decided Saturday to make a business suspension request based on the article from Monday to restaurants offering hospitality services that haven’t taken adequate prevention measures.

Nishimura welcomed the move, calling it “an effective measure.” He said the central government hopes to support such efforts by prefectural governments, also including Tokyo’s initiative to encourage people working at host clubs and other nightlife establishments to undergo polymerase chain reaction tests.

The minister said he is strongly concerned about the fact that COVID-19 cases have started to be reported across the country. He reiterated his call for efforts to avoid the three Cs of closed, crowded and close-contact settings to prevent the spread of the virus especially to elderly people.

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