Japan will declare a state of emergency as early as Tuesday in a bid to stop the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s emergency plan would give governors authority to call on businesses to close and people to stay at home for up to six months, but not to order the kind of lockdowns seen in other countries.
In most cases, there would be no penalties for ignoring requests, and enforcement would depend largely on peer pressure and respect for authority.
Abe has reportedly expressed concern about being too hasty, given the restrictions on businesses and personal movement that would ensue. He finally became convinced to declare a state of emergency after coronavirus cases in just the city of Tokyo spiked over the weekend to top 1,000, raising fresh worries of a more explosive surge.
A week ago, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo advised American citizens who live in the United States but are presently in Japan to return home or risk remaining abroad “for an indefinite period.” It added Japan’s low testing rate makes it difficult to accurately assess the prevalence of the coronavirus.