Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has requested all elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools to close from March 2 to the end of the spring vacation. Meaning that schools will remain closed for the entirety of March and reopen in April unless plans change.
The decision comes as Japan faces multiple problems related to COVID-19, which has been spreading across Japan. The number of confirmed patients in Japan has topped 900 as of February 27, including 700 patients from the Diamond Princess cruise that remained dock in Yokohama as the virus infected more and more passengers.
As of this writing, Hokkaido is the prefecture with the largest number of confirmed cases. The prefecture also reported Japan’s 3rd death related to the new coronavirus.
Since kids will be staying at home, Abe has also asked companies and government agencies to allow workers to take days off so they could stay home. Companies allowing employees to telework would also provide a much necessary relief to families.
Abe and his administration have been facing increasing criticism for their slow response to the crisis. Members of the opposition and citizens have been critical ever since Japan implemented what many considered entry restrictions to the country that were not strict enough as COVID-19 spread across mainland China.