Japan is set to expand the COVID-19 state of emergency currently covering Tokyo and 12 other areas to eight more prefectures amid the country's latest resurgence of infections, local media reported Tuesday.
With the expansion, Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima will also be under the state of emergency.
Under tougher measures, restaurants are asked not to serve alcohol or provide karaoke service, and are instructed to close by 8 p.m. local time. Major commercial facilities like department stores are asked to limit the number of customers allowed in at the same time.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met with his Cabinet's members including health minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of COVID-19 response, to discuss the expansion, with the official decision to be determined at a task force meeting on Wednesday.
Suga has also called on the public to cut 50 percent of going out to crowded places, while asking companies to have employees work from home and reduce the number of commuters by 70 percent.
The state of emergency is currently taking place in Tokyo as well as Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa prefectures. In addition, the quasi-state of emergency is covering 16 prefectures.
Under the rapid surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitals across much of Japan are struggling, with a dearth of beds forcing many with milder symptoms to cope at home.