Just three months before the Olympics, Japan announced emergency Covid measures in Tokyo and three other regions to curb the rise of infections.
The government said the state of emergency (which will last for about two weeks) will be “short and powerful.”
As a countermeasure, a bar will be required to close the store, and large-scale sporting events will be held without spectators.
The government claims that the Olympics will proceed in July.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the measures on Friday, starting on Sunday and saying that it will be implemented until May 11. In addition to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures will be affected.
This is the third emergency in Japan since the pandemic began.
“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to many people,” he said. “If we don’t take measures, we are worried that the transmission to big cities will spread all over the country,” he said.
By regulation, major commercial facilities such as department stores, restaurants, bars and karaoke shops offering alcohol will be closed.
Restaurants that do not serve alcohol are told to close early, and businesses are being asked to arrange for people to work in remote areas. The school will remain open.
Emergency measures coincide with the country’s “Golden Week” holidays, the busiest travel period of the year from late April to the first week of May.
Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, urged residents to take preventive measures as soon as possible. To discourage people from going out at night, she said the illuminations and neon signs would be turned off.
According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the number of victims of coronavirus in Japan is much lower than in many other countries, with approximately 558,000 cases and less than 10,000 deaths.
However, there are concerns about the recent increase in infectious diseases, and bed shortages have been reported in some areas.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020, said at a press conference on Friday that the organizers were not considering canceling the event.
“We hope that the measures taken by the government, Tokyo and other local governments will improve the coronavirus situation,” she said.
“As Tokyo 2020, we continue to hope for a quick return to normal and will work closely with stakeholders to ensure a safe and secure Olympic Games.”