On Friday, April 9, the Japanese government will approve tougher coronavirus measures for the capital, weeks after the lifting of the state of emergency and with just over 100 days of the Tokyo Olympics being postponed.
However, such restrictions appear to be less stringent than some of the general closures enforced in other countries and mainly require restaurants and bars to close at 8 pm, with the threat of fines for those that do not.
Close to 100 Days Before the Olympics, this is how Tokyo is Coping with COVID-19
Such measures have already been in force in virus hotspots including Osaka city, where a rebound in cases has forced the Olympic torch relay off public roads, NHK World reported.
The pandemic-delayed 2020 Games are set to open on July 23 in Tokyo, but a surge in cases in parts of the country is creating new concern.
Japan’s government imposed a virus state of emergency across several regions starting in January, lifting it gradually, with Tokyo exiting the measure last.
Despite these efforts, cases have rebounded quickly in some areas where the measure was lifted sooner, particularly in Osaka.
In line with this, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday said, “It is urgent that we take more and stronger steps such as reducing the flow of people between major cities, or else we are bound to see a situation where infections will spread and become more serious.”
On a positive note, Japan has avoided the severe Covid-19 outbreaks seen elsewhere and has suffered around 9,300 deaths overall.
That said, it is also worth noting that the country’s vaccine rollout is moving slowly, with only the Pfizer/BioNTech jab approved so far, and physicians have reported the spread of more contagious variants.
The new measures covering central Tokyo and other select areas are expected to be announced later on Friday and will be in effect from Monday to May 11. The city of Kyoto and areas of Okinawa – both generally flooded with visitors during the Golden Week holiday period from late April to early May – are also expected to face tighter restrictions with virus border controls until May 5.
Olympic organizers are moving forward with preparations for the Games, with national swimming qualifiers this week, but some trial and qualification events involving international officials and participants have been postponed due to strict anti-virus checks at Japan’s borders.