State of emergency declared for Tokyo, other prefectures in Japan

State of emergency declared for Tokyo, other prefectures in Japan
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on Tuesday, as the nation tries to curb a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

The state of emergency, which will last until May 6, is not a hard-line order, so violators won't face legal action, The Associated Press reports.

Abe's declaration includes a stay-at-home recommendation and allows Tokyo's governor and the other prefectural leaders to do more to enforce social distancing, according to the news service.


“The most important thing is for each one of us to change our activity,” Abe reportedly told a government task force. He said that person-to-person contact should be cut by 70 to 80 percent for the next month.

At just under 4,000 confirmed cases nationally, Japan has a moderate number of infections compared to the current epicenters of the virus, but saw a surge of more than 100 new cases over the weekend.

Over 1,100 of the country's cases are in Tokyo, the largest metropolitan area in the world with roughly 14 million people.

Abe was initially skeptical about the need for an emergency order over concerns about its impact on the economy. He said on Monday that the government would move forward with a stimulus package worth 108 trillion yen, or $990 billion, to help affected businesses and workers. 

Individuals and small businesses will receive cash payouts as part of the package.