July 27, 2021

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Japan declares a short and powerful emergency in Tokyo, Kyoto to curb the spread of Covid before the Olympics

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State of emergency will cover nearly a quarter of the population (File)

Reuters:

Japan will declare “short and powerful” states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures on Friday as the country struggles to contain a resurgence of the pandemic just three months before the Olympics.

With a new state of emergency from April 25 to May 11, the government will require the closure of restaurants, bars and karaoke rooms serving alcohol and that major sporting events take place without spectators, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Violating the restrictions in some cases will result in penalties under a recently revised law, he said.

“We absolutely must limit the movement of people, and we must do it decisively. We need powerful, short and targeted measures,” he said, asking people to remember last spring’s blockades and stay home.

The new restrictions are expected to be formally approved at a government task force meeting later on Friday and announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at a press conference at 8pm (1100 GMT).

Department stores, cinemas and other commercial facilities larger than 1,000 square meters will have to close while companies will be asked to grant more allowances for people who work from home

Schools will remain open The state of emergency – a third round for Japan that would also include Kyoto and Hyogo – will last during the “Golden Week” holidays and cover nearly a quarter of the population, in a further blow to the tourism industries and services.

“We will demand that the lights and neon signs be turned off,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at a press conference.

“It will be dark at night,” he said, adding that he hoped the initiative would discourage people from going out at night.

Koike also asked non-residents to refrain from entering Tokyo as much as possible.

Japan has so far avoided an explosive spread of the pandemic which has paralyzed many countries.

There were a total of around 550,000 cases and 9,761 deaths, significantly fewer than in other large economies.

But the latest surge in infections has fueled the alarm with an explosive wave in the mutant variant and a severe shortage of medical staff and hospital beds in some areas, while Japan’s vaccination campaign remains sluggish.

Tokyo Motor Show organizers on Thursday canceled the marquee event for this year, in a move that could raise further questions about the government’s insistence that the Tokyo Olympics will take place this summer.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said on the same day that a policeman who worked with the torch relay had tested positive for the virus, a first for the event.

“To make the Games safe and secure, we need to contain the spread now and create a suitable environment,” Koike said, according to Kyodo News.

Tokyo reported 759 new infections on Friday, down from 861 the day before, when the count hit its highest since January 29, during its previous state of emergency.

Several other prefectures remain in a “near-emergency” state of targeted infection control, and Nishimura said the duration would also be extended to May 11 for some.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and is posted by a syndicated feed.)