Japan’s governors want power to call for school closures

The National Governors Association on Friday urged the central government to give prefectural governors the option to request the closure of schools affected by an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The association’s request was included in a set of draft proposals covering the government’s response to COVID-19. Governors are hoping for new measures that account for the fast-spreading omicron variant.

The governors held an online meeting the day after several prefectures were placed in the COVID-19 pre-emergency phase, during which prefectural governors can ask restaurants to shorten their opening hours, among other measures.

“We must curb the peak of the wave of infections as much as possible and limit the impact on society,” Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai, the head of the association, said at the start of the meeting.

In the draft proposals, the association noted that the virus is spreading not only in restaurants but also in schools and homes.

The association urged the government to put in place effective measures to tackle the omicron variant and called for a review of the central government‘s COVID-19 response guidelines, compiled in November.

A stable supply of COVID-19 test kits and a clear standard for which patients can stay home to recover are also part of the draft proposals.

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