Governors are free to take stronger action against BA.5

PRefectoral governments are given a free hand to impose stricter COVID-19 measures tailored to their individual needs to prevent the spread of the BA.5 omicron subvariant.

That political initiative announced during a press conference on July 29 from Daishiro Yamagiwa, the government minister in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic response, in response to a request made by the National Governors’ Association the day before.

It will allow the governors to do that state that their prefectures must take action to counter subvariant BA.5 when, for example, local hospital occupancy exceeds 50 percent and health systems are under heavy strain.

The Miyagi Prefectural government decided on July 30 to issue its statement as soon as next week after discussing details with the central government.

This will automatically result in the central government deciding that the region in question is in urgent need of assistance, which takes the form of sending experts to advise the local government on the steps to be taken.

But unlike pre-emergency restrictions, the declaration does not restrict people’s movements and activities, such as walking. B. Asking restaurants to close early and punishing them if they don’t comply.

The declaration only calls on residents and tradespeople to cooperate.

For example, a local government will ask residents with only mild or no COVID-19 symptoms to refrain from visiting a clinic and instead take a do-it-yourself test at home.

Officials will also urge schools and facilities for the elderly to step up infection control measures.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to implement teleworking steps as much as possible.

In such situations, to prevent health services from being overwhelmed, local governments will urge companies not to require their employees to have a certificate of a COVID-19 test issued by a health facility when they are recovering.

The central government said the new declaration system will make it easier for governors to step up infection control measures without resorting to pre-emergency measures.

In fact, however, the initiative is nothing new.

The central government has emphasized that there is no need to impose limits on people’s activities.

This has led some in the Kishida government to question the relatively relaxed approach as Japan is gripped by a seventh wave of the pandemic, with record daily cases setting across the country.

“We had to tell people that thorough implementation of anti-infection measures is absolutely necessary,” said a source close to the prime minister’s office.

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