Japan officially puts Okinawa prefecture under state of emergency

The government officially placed Okinawa Prefecture under a coronavirus state of emergency on Sunday to stem an outbreak of new COVID-19 cases in the prefecture.

The state of emergency, the third of its kind in Japan, now covers 10 prefectures and is expected to last until June 20 in Okinawa.

As of April 12, Okinawa was in a pre-emergency phase, which allows local authorities to take antivirus measures similar to those in an emergency. Governor Denny Tamaki has called for a state of emergency to cover his prefecture following a recent spike in the number of new infections there.

The prefectural government is asking restaurants and bars offering alcoholic drinks and karaoke to temporarily suspend operations.

The central government will decide whether to extend the state of emergency for the other nine prefectures – Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka – which currently expire on May 31.

As the number of new infections remains high in these areas, the emergency is expected to extend far beyond, possibly until June 20.

On Saturday, the central government ended the pre-emergency phase of the coronavirus for Ehime Prefecture of Shikoku, ahead of the initially scheduled expiration date of May 31, based on a ruling that the situation of the prefecture had improved. The number of prefectures on the pre-emergency list is now eight.

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