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Japanese state of emergency extended through end of May

Japanese state of emergency extended through end of May
© Getty Images

Japan will extend a nationwide state of emergency through May 31, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday.

Abe said the rate of new coronavirus infections had not fallen enough to end the emergency measures imposed due to the pandemic, according to Reuters. However, the prime minister said he was open to lifting the restrictions early if his advisers suggest it at a task force meeting set for May 14.

Abe added that the lockdown may be gradually eased in areas with fewer infections. Libraries and museums reopening at limited capacity is also a possibility, he said.

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“May will be a month where we need to end this pandemic. It will also be a month where we will prepare for the next stage,” Abe said at a press conference.

Shigeru Omi, Abe’s top adviser on the pandemic, said infection rates were down but that Japan was still hovering around half of the daily testing capacity of 15,000.

Japan has seen 15,965 confirmed cases of the virus thus far, including 712 from a cruise ship that was quarantined in the port of Yokohama at one point. A total of 568 deaths from the virus have been confirmed in Japan as of Monday, according to Reuters.

In his remarks, Abe said the public must be prepared to adopt a “new lifestyle,” asking citizens to continue social distancing measures. Japan has spent the equivalent of about $1.1 trillion on stimulus to aid businesses and people affected by the lockdown measures. Abe said Monday that further action is coming, including rent aid and increased aid for part-time workers who have lost work.

“We will take action and act quickly to assist businesses and households,” Abe said, according to the news service.

The Abe administration lacks the authority to unilaterally close businesses, leaving some bars and restaurants in national hot spots such as Tokyo remaining open. The government has announced a goal of cutting the people in shopping and entertainment districts by 80 percent, but Abe said Monday that the administration has fallen short of that goal in most places.