Japan to suspend domestic travel campaign in two cities – minister

Japan to suspend domestic travel campaign in two cities – minister
TOKYO — The Japanese government is preparing to pause its domestic travel campaign in two cities following sharp rises in COVID-19 cases, the minister handling the government’s coronavirus response said on Tuesday.

The move would be a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s aim to use the Go To Travel campaign to prop up regional economies, while critics said the program risked spreading the infection from major cities to the countryside.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said he hoped a final decision on the temporary exclusion of the cities of Osaka and Sapporo from the program could be made later in the day.

“Infections are spreading and medical care is becoming tense, so I think it’s good to act as soon as possible,” Nishimura told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Nishimura said the two cities would initially be excluded for three weeks, during which time no new reservations could be made under the program.

Suga said on Saturday the government would suspend new reservations under the Go To Travel program for trips to hard-hit areas as new coronavirus cases have continued to rise nationally.

Suga has been trying to revitalize the hard-hit economy while keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control.

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