infections have been on the rise all over the world in recent weeks, including all across Japan, where much of the blame has been placed on the popular Go To Travel Campaign
. While the campaign, which offers travel coupons and major discounts, has been successful in giving the hurting tourism sector a huge boost with the increase in domestic travel, there are fears that the many people crossing prefecture borders have been spreading the virus as they go.
With more trips than ever being planned for the upcoming winter holidays, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on December 14th that he intends to suspend the campaign temporarily from December 28th of this year through January 11th, 2021, in an attempt to keep infection numbers from rising and flatten the curve, before medical facilities become overburdened.
Even before the 28th, however, the government is taking extra steps in some of Japan's biggest cities. From the 14th to the 27th, before the general suspension takes effect, travelers visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, or Nagoya will be ineligible for the discounts and travel coupons provided by the campaign. Specifically, while travelers leaving the major cities and heading to other destinations are being strongly discouraged, they will still receive the campaign benefits. But those traveling to the major cities will not. For any travelers who have already made reservations using the campaign that will now be invalidated, the government may even be willing to shoulder any cancelation costs incurred due to this campaign suspension.
Aside from the changes to the Go To Travel Campaign, Prime Minister Suga also voiced a request to shops and restaurants to shorten their business hours over the holiday season, with the help of further government aid. In addition, he reminded people across Japan to stay more vigilant than ever when it comes to safety measures like hand washing and mask usage, and asked that people carefully reconsider returning home for the holidays.
News Sources: NHK