Experts Want "Go To Travel" Halt unless Infections Subside

Politics

Tokyo, Dec. 11 (Jiji Press)--A panel of experts on Friday proposed that the Japanese government should take additional measures to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, such as suspending its Go To Travel campaign, in areas where infection cases remain high unless the situation improves.

The panel on coronavirus countermeasures compiled the proposal at a time when newly confirmed infection cases are staying at record-high levels in many parts of the country, including the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka.

Following the call from the government panel, headed by Shigeru Omi, chief of the state-affiliated Japan Community Health Care Organization, the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may face a difficult decision, pundits said. The program, aimed at stimulating tourism demand, which has been dampened by the coronavirus crisis, is one of key policies pushed by Suga.

Suga said in an online broadcast Friday that "I have yet to consider" suspending the campaign. Still, he said, "We've been told by the panel that areas with numerous infection cases, especially those in the Stage 3 situation, should take thorough countermeasures." Stage 3 is the second-worst level on the four-tier scale for gauging the degree of the spread of the virus.

Suga suggested that the central government will talk with relevant local authorities to decide whether the current measure of excluding trips to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, and the city of Osaka, the capital of Osaka Prefecture, from the Go To Travel campaign will be kept in place beyond Tuesday, when the suspension is now scheduled to end.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press