May 29, 2021
The national government has officially confirmed that the current COVID-19 state of emergency in Hiroshima, Okayama and 7 other prefectures will be extended until June 20. Hiroshima Governor Yuzaki Hidehiko outlined the prefecture’s strategy to the press last night.
Extension comes at crucial time in fight against COVID-19 spread
The extension of the state of emergency comes at a time when the number of daily cases in Hiroshima, though still way over the level required to trigger the highest “Stage 4” alert, are dropping. The prevalence of new variants, which now account for almost 90% of new cases, is helping the virus spread faster and leading to longer recovery times, which is putting local health services under considerable pressure. Most worrying, perhaps, is that the number of critical cases which require use of the limited number of critical care units is at a new high of 30 patients.
State of Emergency Part 2: Longer but looser
The extension comes as no surprise as it has been discussed extensively since last week. The state of emergency has been simultaneously extended and relaxed with some of the restrictions announced on the first declaration on May 16 being rolled back.
Current restrictions on dining and nightlife businesses will remain in place with alcohol sales suspended and businesses that continue to trade required to close by 8pm.
In the case of malls and shopping centers, currently required to close on Saturday and Sunday, they will be allowed to open up to 10,000 square meters of space (including food and daily necessity sections) from June 1. They will have to close by 8pm.
The incentive measure of providing a ¥5000 extra daily support subsidy for businesses in the Nagarekawa nightlife district that have their staff take PCR tests will be canceled.
According to the prefecture, there were 11 businesses that have not complied with the request to close as of May 25. The process leading to the fining of such businesses will commence from June 1.
High schools will no longer be required to conduct classes online classes or employ rotating attendance. Club activities will, however, continue to be limited.
Events will be limited to 5000 people or 50% of venue capacity, whichever is lower. Events which had already sold their tickets before the imposition of the state of emergency are exempt. This means the Hiroshima Carp, which experienced its own team cluster this month, will still be welcoming 16,500 spectators to the home games at Mazda Stadium.
Yuzaki did credit the people of Hiroshima for helping stem to rapid climb in the number of new cases seen this month and urged everyone to redouble efforts to do their bit to protecting themselves and, by extension, others. He restated the official target of cutting excursions by 50% and increasing the amount of remote work to 70%.