EXPLAINER: What does Japan’s virus state of emergency mean


Japan has declared a state of emergency to curb a rapid coronavirus resurgence, the third since the pandemic began

HOW BAD IS JAPAN’S SITUATION?

Japan, with about 550,000 cases and fewer than 10,000 deaths, is better off than much of the world, though not so good when compared with other places in Asia. It has not imposed any hard lockdowns. Infections briefly dipped in March, but have since risen above five times to exceed 5,000 Wednesday. Experts have warned that a new variant of the virus, detected earlier in Britain, is rapidly spreading among younger people in offices and classrooms, causing more serious cases, overburdening hospitals and disrupting regular medical care. Testing remains insufficient despite calls for increased testing for new variants at elderly homes and for the young.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

WHAT CAN A STATE OF EMEGENCY DO?

Emergency measures were toughened under a law revised in February, and the state of emergency now allows prefectural governors in the areas to issue binding orders for businesses to shorten hours or close in exchange for daily compensation of up to 200,000 yen ($1,850), while imposing fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,780) for violators.

WHAT WILL CHANGE FROM EARLIER MEASURES?

Department stores, malls, theme parks, bars and restaurants serving alcohol, as well as theaters and museums, will close. Restaurants that do not serve alcohol and public transportation services are asked to finish early. Groceries and schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes. The third emergency is similar to the first one a year ago and tougher than a second one in January that was limited to 8 p.m. closure requests for bars and restaurants.

WILL THE PUBLIC COMPLY?

Residents are asked to avoid nonessential outings, work from home and stick to mask-wearing and other safety measures, but those are non-mandatory requests. Experts worry whether the requests will be followed as many people are increasingly fatigued by restraints and less cooperative, and they have largely ignored ongoing social distancing requests in Tokyo, Osaka and other areas since earlier this month.

HOW DOES THE EMERGENCY AFFECT THE OLYMPICS?

Tokyo Olympic organizers and the government have repeated their determination to hold the July 23-Aug. 8 games, while a majority of the public support their cancellation or further postponement. The surge in cases has caused a rerouting of the Olympic torch relay after its March 25 start in Fukushima. Suga on Friday said Japan has no choice but to follow the IOC decision to hold the games and that Japan will do its utmost to ensure safety. “The IOC has the authority to decide and the IOC has already decided to hold the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

WHAT ABOUT JAPAN’S VACCINATIONS?



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