Japan dials back domestic travel campaign as virus cases hit record

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks walk on the street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said it will suspend a domestic travel campaign in areas where coronavirus infections are especially high as cases nationwide hit a record high on Saturday.

The partial suspension of the domestic travel campaign marks a change in direction for the government, which was holding back on curtailing a domestic travel subsidy programme.

“We will suspend new reservations under the Go To Travel programme for trips destined for regions seeing a rise in coronavirus infections,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.

Suga has been attempting a balancing act of revitalising Japan’s hard-hit economy while keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control. However, an expert panel recommended on Friday that the government curtail the programme if there is a further rise in cases.

The government has not confirmed details of the partial suspension, such as which regions would be excluded from the domestic travel campaign or cancellation policies.

New coronavirus cases have continued to climb nationally, with cases topping 2,500 for the first time and reaching a new high of 2,560 on Saturday, according to public broadcaster NHK. In Tokyo, the daily infection rate reached a record 539 cases.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Lincoln Feast.)

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