TOKYO – Three months away from the Olympics, Japan said it would declare a “short” and “powerful” state of emergency on Friday to cover Tokyo and three western prefectures to curb the surge in coronavirus cases and the rapid spread infectious variants.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from Sunday to May 11, the Associated Press reported.
With the new measures, to cover Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, the government will demand the closure of restaurants, bars and karaoke lounges serving alcohol, and major sporting events will take place without spectators, the minister said. of Economics Yasutoshi Nishimura.
Department stores and other large retailers will be asked to close and businesses will be encouraged to allow people to work from home.
The measures are the third round of emergency restrictions for Tokyo and elsewhere. They represent a significant escalation from previous limits imposed earlier this year, under which bars and restaurants were only asked to close early, shops remained open, and spectators were allowed in reduced numbers at events. sportsmen.
“We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively,” said Nishimura, who is also minister in charge of the coronavirus response. “We need powerful, short and focused measures.”
Tokyo reported 861 new cases on Thursday, the highest number since January 29. Although Japan has recorded fewer than 10,000 covid-19-related deaths, the outbreak has put significant strain on the health system, while vaccinations progress slowly.