Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he will declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to bolster measures to fight the coronavirus, but that there will be no hard lockdowns.

Abe also told reporters Monday that his government will launch a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package — Japan’s largest ever and nearly twice as much as expected — to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, including cash payouts to households in need and financial support to protect businesses and jobs.

Abe said experts on a government-commissioned task force urged him to prepare to declare a state of emergency, with the COVID-19 outbreak rapidly expanding in major cities including Tokyo, and hospitals and medical staff overburdened with patients.

He said the state of emergency will cover Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and four other hard-hit prefectures, and will be in effect for about a month.

Measures are expected to include a stay-at-home request for residents, but there will be no penalties for objectors. Public transportation, banks, groceries and other essential services will continue operating.

Abe said the state of emergency is intended to further reinforce social distancing between people to slow the spread of the virus, while maintaining as much social and economic activity as possible.


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