The government plans to ask Tokyo and three prefectures in western Japan to demand that bars and restaurants stop serving alcohol in the planned third state of emergency, sources said.
At the same time, some government officials fear that such a move could lead residents of affected prefectures to cross borders in search of a drink. This may mean that a larger area of prefectures will also be asked to stop serving alcohol.
Talks between the central government and four prefectures drag on as officials consider various state of emergency proposals that include more extensive viral countermeasures than those taken before.
The central government plans to declare a state of emergency on April 23. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and three prefectures in western Japan – Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto – have come up with different ideas to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation.
Tokyo wants all bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol once a state of emergency is in place, sources said.
Osaka Prefecture officials have submitted three options to the central government regarding bars and restaurants. The most severe would ask them to close their doors during the state of emergency.
The other two include an alcohol ban similar to what Tokyo is proposing. The second would ask bars and restaurants to close their doors at 8 p.m. on weekdays and to remain closed on weekends. The third asks them to close their doors at 8 p.m. every day.
Tokyo metropolitan authorities plan to keep the 8 p.m. closure measure currently in place.
Tokyo is also considering asking karaoke parlors, bowling alleys and arcades to shut down.
Osaka is seeking to demand the closure of department stores, cinemas, amusement parks and shopping malls, while Tokyo aims to target large commercial facilities of at least 1,000 square meters for the closure.
Tokyo and Osaka are considering asking public schools to suspend all extracurricular activities. But the complete closure of all schools is not currently envisaged.
Jurisdictions also differ in the length of time they want the state of emergency to remain in place. While Osaka is considering a three to four week period, Tokyo has another proposal, with a state of emergency set to begin on April 25 or 26 and last until May 11 or 16.
An official in the prime minister’s office said talks were slow as prefectures offer to target a much wider range of businesses than last time around.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike explained on the morning of April 22 that Tokyo submitted its request for a state of emergency the day before because its own health experts warned that infections are spreading faster now due to variant strains of the coronavirus.