On Friday, Japan placed Tokyo under a new, month-long state of “quasi-emergency” to combat surging COVID-19 infections, less than a month after the capital and host of the Summer Olympics lifted a broader state of emergency.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the restrictions were needed to prevent regional outbreaks from turning into a nationwide wave.
“We ask that people refrain from unnecessary travel between prefectures as much as possible,” Suga said in televised remarks.
In a meeting with experts, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura proposed a month of targeted restrictions in Tokyo, like reduced business hours for bars and restaurants, along with 24 days of curbs for Kyoto and Okinawa, starting on April 12.
That would take the period of restrictions through Japan’s annual “Golden Week” holiday season from April 29 to May 5.
On Friday, Japan’s total COVID-19 cases crossed 500,000, according to domestic media tallies. There have been 9,331 deaths, according to the health ministry, low compared to most major economies, but concerns about a new wave of infections are rising, particularly with the hosting of the postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games coming up fast.