Tokyo, Japan | Xinhua | The Japanese government decided Thursday to put capital Tokyo under the fourth state of emergency over COVID-19, covering the duration of the Olympics, in an effort to curb a recent surge in infections.
The emergency state will be effective from Monday to Aug. 22, which may cause the Summer Olympic Games to be held without spectators at venues in the capital.
“We must take stronger steps to prevent another nationwide outbreak, also considering the impact of coronavirus variants,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, after finalizing the decision for a state of emergency in Tokyo and extending an existing one in Okinawa at a task force meeting on Thursday evening.
A quasi-state of emergency with loose restrictive measures on business activity targeting high-risk areas instead of the entire prefectures, will be extended until Aug. 22 for Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and Osaka.
Meanwhile, the restrictions currently effective in five other prefectures — Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka — will expire on Sunday as planned.
This is Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency since the COVID-19 pandemic started early last year. In principle, the government will ban restaurants from providing alcohol and request them to close by 8:00 p.m. local time.
At the same time, areas under the quasi-state of emergency need to abide by the alcohol ban in principle, but the governors of such prefectures can loosen the restriction.
“We are hoping to keep people from moving around during the summer break and the Bon holidays until vaccinations move further along,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the nation’s COVID-19 response.