Japan set to extend COVID-19 state of emergency lockdown to Sept 12

(Reuters) – Japan is set on Tuesday to extend its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions to Sept. 12 and expand the restrictions to seven more prefectures, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Public health experts are meeting to discuss the steps and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a news conference at 9:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) to explain the decision.

The current state of emergency is due to expire on Aug. 31, but a continuing surge in coronavirus cases has spurred calls to extend it. Tokyo announced 2,962 new daily cases on Monday, after a record 5,773 on Friday.

The government will expand the state of emergency to the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka, the public broadcaster said.

The coronavirus curbs include asking restaurants to close early and stop serving alcohol in exchange for a government subsidy.

The government will also expand less strict “quasi-emergency” measures to four additional prefectures – Miyagi, Yamanashi, Toyama and Gifu, Jiji news agency reported.

Repeated states of emergency have had limited effect in slowing the spread of the virus in Japan as cooperation is voluntary.

Pandemic fatigue and summer vacations have also been blamed for contributing to the latest COVID-19 surge in a nation where only around 37% of people have been fully vaccinated.