Tokyo, May 4 : Japan will reopen parks, museums, libraries and some other public facilities after a nationwide state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to be extended, a senior government official said.
Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told the media on Sunday that the government will allow those facilities to reopen if sufficient measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are put in place, even in areas with a relatively high number of infections, reports Xinhua news agency.
Nishimura said that the government will release a set of guidelines on how to resume social activities on Monday, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will formally decide to extend the state of emergency for about one month.
He added that the planned reopening of public facilities will be allowed in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Fukuoka and eight other prefectures that the government has singled out for taking stepped-up measures against the virus.
The government is also eyeing using the Regional Economy Vitalization Corp. of Japan, a public-private investment fund, to financially support troubled mid-sized firms in non-urban areas, according to the minister.
“About 1 trillion yen ($9.3 billion) has been prepared (by the fund) for the whole country. If necessary, we will also think about increasing this amount,” he said.
Abe first declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on April 7, but this was expanded to cover the entire nation on April 16, in part to dissuade large numbers of people crossing prefectural lines during the five-day Golden Week holidays, which officially began on Saturday.
The state of emergency was originally scheduled to end on May 6, the last day of the Golden Week holidays.
On Friday, a panel of medical experts recommended that the Japanese government continue requesting the nation to continue to follow social restrictions to tackle the spread of the coronavirus and as such believed the state of emergency should be extended.
As of Sunday morning, COVID-19 cases in Japan has increased to 14,877 as nationwide death toll from the virus has now risen to a total of 530, including 13 from a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.