Japan will consider resuming its subsidy program aimed at promoting domestic tourism only in certain parts of the country even if the current state of emergency over the novel coronavirus is fully lifted, Tourism Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Thursday.
The idea of potentially restarting the “Go To Travel” campaign comes as Japan decided to end its second state of emergency for five prefectures west of the Tokyo metropolitan area at the end of this month, as the number of coronavirus infections is no longer considered serious.
A street in Osaka’s famous tourist spot, Shinsekai, is quiet on December 28, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. On the same day, the Japanese government extended the suspension of its travel promotion program for the virus-hit domestic tourism industry across the country until January 11 in response to a recent notable increase in infections. (Kyōdo) == Kyōdo
The five prefectures are Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi and Gifu, officials said, adding that the plan will be finalized by the government’s virus measures task force on Friday after hearing advice from health experts. .
Fukuoka has also asked the government to drop the southwest prefecture from the list, but no decision has been made, with some medical experts stressing the need to further assess the situation as the bed occupancy rate in hospitals remains high.
Japan’s second state of emergency was first declared for a month on January 7, then extended to March 7. Unlike the first last spring, it only covered the Tokyo metropolitan area and some other parts of the country that have seen a resurgence in infections.
The government has also not yet decided whether to end the emergency for Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures on March 7, officials said.
Although Tokyo’s infection situation has improved in recent days, it still registered 340 new cases on Thursday, bringing its cumulative total to 11,740.
During a parliamentary session, Akaba, referring to the travel campaign – which has been blamed by critics for sparking the resurgence – said the government was not considering restarting the program immediately after the lockdown was lifted. ’emergency.
Akaba said the government should carefully analyze the infection situation in each region before restarting the campaign, which was halted nationwide on Dec. 28.
“It’s not an all or nothing, black or white (decision),” said the minister, who had previously raised the possibility of resuming the subsidy program by only allowing travel to the respective prefectures which have figures. relatively low infections.
Some government officials have said parts of the program should be overhauled, such as reducing discount rates and asking people to use the campaign only for weekday travel.
The government is also seeking to ease restrictions on events in targeted prefectures in stages once the emergency lifts, following a month-long observation period.
The easing could include increasing the audience limit from 5,000 or 50% of a venue’s current capacity to a maximum crowd of 10,000. It can also allow for a full house for places such as cinemas where people are not speaking loudly.