Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday that parks, libraries, museums and few other public facilities will reopen after the state of emergency imposed nationwide on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to be extended.
On Sunday, he told the media that the mentioned facilities will reopen if sufficient measures to contain the spread of the contagion are put in place, including areas with a comparatively high number of cases.
Guidelines set to be released
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, reported Xinhua news agency.
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.
State of emergency extended
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 the 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.
(With inputs from agencies)